The Mullis murder trial has gone to the jury for deliberation.
Todd Mullis is charged with First Degree Murder in the death of his wife, Amy. He is accused of fatally stabbing her in the back with a corn rake on their farm near Earlville on November 10, 2018. He has pleaded not guilty.
After the Defense called Todd to the stand to testify on Thursday afternoon, the State had their turn for cross-examination on Friday morning. The State questioned him about the events leading up to Amy’s death, as well as the hours that followed. The State asked about pulling out the corn rake from Amy’s back and if he had ever heard that you shouldn’t pull out an object if it’s impaling someone. “No, I never heard that… I didn’t recall it at that time.” said Todd. The State also questioned Todd about the corn rake, including where he had last seen it before it that day. “The last time I saw it was probably on the grass in October… I moved it inside the door of the red shed.” The State questioned him about what he heard that morning on the farm after Amy left the hog barn. “The only thing I heard was maybe a few semis going down the road… I didn’t hear anyone drive onto the property… didn’t hear any screams from Amy.” The State also questioned Todd about the security cameras on his farm, asking why he didn’t think to check the cameras on the day of her death. “I never thought about it because it happened inside the shed… the next day, I talked to family and they said, hey, wonder if something would be on there.” The State asked Todd why he didn’t respond when DCI agent Jon Turbett told him Amy’s death was ruled a homicide and Todd did it. “I was dumbfounded,” Todd replied. The State also asked Todd about the internet searches on his iPad. He admitted searching for “thrill of the kill” and “thrill of the hunt”, but denied doing any of the searches regarding “cheating women”.
The State then played a portion of the 911 call Todd made after discovering Amy stabbed with the corn rake. Assistant Attorney General Maureen Hughes asked Todd to listen very carefully to one of his whispers while he was performing chest compressions on Amy. “Todd, do you whisper ‘cheating whore’ right there?”
“So you don’t remember what you whispered?”
She plays another clip from a few seconds later. “Right there, do you say ‘go to hell, cheating whore’?”
“You didn’t hear ‘cheating whore’?”
Todd: “… I didn’t hear that word.”
In the Defense’s re-direct, Attorney Jake Feuerhelm asked Todd if he had a choice to get Amy out of the red shed without the rake in her back? “There was no way,” he testified. The Defense asked Todd why he did internet searches for “thrill of the kill”. “It was a quote stated in a movie… we were trying to remember what it was… ” he testified. The Defense asked him about the alleged “cheating whore” whisper on the 911 call. “Do you believe you said that?” to which replied, “No.”
The State chose not to rebuttal and no further evidence was presented, so they moved onto closing arguments.
The State showed the jury a photo of Amy’s face, dead and bruised. “Amy is not here to tell her story… but she was screaming through in the courtroom this week.” They told the jury they were able to prove Todd was guilty of First Degree Murder beyond reasonable doubt, including that he was the only person with motive, that Amy was scared of him and that no one else was at the farm. “How would a mystery attacker know she was going to that shed? And hoping there’s a weapon in that building? It doesn’t make any sense.” Hughes urged the jury to listen to the whispers on the 911 call again closely.
In the Defense’s closing arguments, Feuerhelm asked the jury to consider if it was feasible that Todd could go from the hog barn, to the red shed, attack Amy and then back to the hog barn in “the time it takes to get a drink of water”. “Is it possible someone was in the shed and Amy surprised them?” The Defense also addressed the alleged “cheating whore” whisper on Todd’s 911 call, telling the jury he’s actually saying, “She’s cold… she’s cold.” He asked the jury, “If you murder your wife, you’re going to do that on a 911 call? That’s a Hail Mary by the State, folks.”
The State had the final say. “That was not a Hail Mary. We don’t need that 911 call.”
Closing arguments lasted about two hours on Friday. Most of the jury listened intently versus taking notes.
Both Todd and Amy’s families and friends were present in the courtroom Friday and have been all week, with the exception of their three children.
After closing arguments, two of the fourteen jurors were named as alternates and sent home. Around 2 pm, the twelve jurors then headed down the hall to the courthouse’s jury room to deliberate and discuss the case for the first time as a group. The jury – six men and six women, including an expecting mother, a fence installer and a retired educator – spent two and a half hours deliberating before informing the court attendant that they would not reach a verdict that day. Judge Thomas Bitter sent the jury home for the weekend – they will return Monday at 9 am to continue deliberations.
KMCH News Director Janelle Tucker, who has been covering the trial all week, will be back in the Dubuque County courtroom Monday until the verdict is reached. Stay with KMCH on Monday for updates.
photos courtesy of Telegraph Herald