PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The court heard from people who knew Nancy Crampton Brophy and Daniel Brophy very well on the 15th day of Nancy’s murder trial. 

Nancy is accused of murdering her husband Daniel at the Oregon Culinary Institute on June 2, 2018. On Thursday, her defense attorneys continued to call their witnesses, including Nancy’s niece Susan Estrada and Michael Gitchell, who’s married to another of Nancy’s nieces. 

Both Estrada and Gitchell described what they saw in the Brophys’ relationship and how Daniel and Nancy interacted. 

Other witnesses who testified Thursday include: 

  • Ellen Lavine – Lives near Oregon Culinary Institute 
  • Michael Peterson – Former student at Oregon Culinary Institute 
  • Serjio Perez – Certified forensic video technician  
  • Josiah Roloff – Digital forensic examiner at Roloff Digital Forensics

Here are six takeaways from the 15th day of the trial: 

Daniel and Nancy had an admirable marriage 

Susan Estrada testified for most of the morning and into the afternoon Thursday about visiting her Aunt Nancy and Daniel over the years and living with them. Estrada said she lived with the couple for a year between 2011 and 2012 and returned for a while in 2015 after Nancy had surgery. 

She said Daniel and Nancy had a wonderful relationship. During stressful times, she saw them come together rather than break apart. The two always listened to each other and cared for one another. She said Daniel would always cook meals for Nancy and Nancy would always be willing to type a recipe Daniel wanted to be written down. 

“It was the kind of relationship that made me personally think marriage may not be a bad idea,” Estrada said. “This was a relationship, one of the only ones that I know of that I thought, I could do that. That, if that’s what marriage is like, I would want that.” 

Estrada kept regular contact with Nancy and said she never heard anything about her relationship with Daniel deteriorating. 

Multiple life insurance plans are “not a red flag” 

During the year Estrada lived with Nancy and Daniel, she and Nancy sold life insurance policies together. 

Estrada said she believes she likely at one time discussed Daniel’s life insurance plans with either Daniel or Nancy, but doesn’t remember the specifics of their conversation. 

Daniel had several life insurance policies at the time of his death and in its opening statement, the prosecution suggested Nancy’s motive in the murder was to cash in on those life insurance plans and save herself from the financial ruin she was facing. 

In Estrada’s testimony, the prosecution questioned her about a person having multiple insurance plans and if that was normal. She said it’s sometimes the case. In certain instances, multiple policies are necessary because some people can only qualify for so much coverage with one company. Sometimes they’ll need several policies to reach the amount of coverage they desire. 

Did Nancy mention owning a gun? 

When prosecutors asked Estrada if Nancy ever told her she owned a gun, Estrada said no. Estrada said she never saw anything that looked like a gun or gun parts around the home and did not see a ghost gun build kit when she helped Nancy bring items to a storage unit after Daniel died. 

However, the prosecution presented her with a transcript of an interview Estrada had with a Portland Police Bureau detective in 2019; in the conversation, Estrada said Nancy told her she had bought a gun. 

Estrada said she doesn’t remember telling the detective that. 

Unknown person spotted outside Oregon Culinary Institute

Michael Peterson, a student who attended the Oregon Culinary Institute, testified Thursday saying he called police to report what he believed to be a suspicious person outside the school the day before Daniel’s murder.

He said someone was sitting on the steps outside the student exit and was smoking a cigarette. Peterson said it was late at night and he had never seen the person before.

When he learned Daniel had been murdered, he decided to call police to describe the person he’d seen.

The week before the murder 

Matthew Gitchell testified Thursday afternoon. He’s married to another of Nancy’s nieces and lives in Portland. He said he, his wife, and their son would get together with Daniel and Nancy regularly. They’d celebrate birthdays and holidays together. 

About a week before Daniel was murdered, Gitchell said the Brophys attended his son’s birthday party. He said nothing seemed out of the ordinary with Nancy and Daniel. He said Daniel had a great way with kids and was having fun with Gitchell’s son. 

The Brophys’ affection for one another appeared normal, Gitchell said. 

Nancy stayed in touch with her in-laws, even after Daniel’s murder 

The defense called Josiah Roloff, a digital forensic examiner, to testify about Nancy’s phone records after Daniel died. Roloff looked at how Nancy stayed in touch with Daniel’s parents and Daniel’s son in the months after Daniel’s death and before her arrest. 

The defense hired Roloff to look at AT&T records for Nancy’s phone between June 2, 2018, and September 5, 2018. In that time, he said there were 61 calls made between Nancy and Daniel’s son Nathanial Stillwater. 

Between Daniel’s parents, Jack and Karen Brophy, and Nancy, 153 calls were made and 184 text messages were sent. 

Roloff also tracked the movement of Nancy’s phone as it connected to cell towers. He said that summer, her phone was detected near Jack and Karen’s home 25 times and it appears she visited them at least once a week.