PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – It’s been 12 days since the prosecution rested its case in the Nancy Crampton Brophy trial and on Tuesday, when the court was called to order, attorneys from both sides had a flourish of motions and concerns to share with the judge.
Nancy is charged with murder in the death of her husband, Daniel Brophy. He was found fatally shot at the Oregon Culinary Institute on June 2, 2018.
The first note of business in court Tuesday was concerning the COVID-19 case that had potentially caused the court to delay the trial. The defense had hoped to take up their case last week, but the trial was delayed due to a confirmed COVID-19 case in the courtroom.
Judge Christopher Ramras announced that one of the jurors was still out with COVID-19 and that an alternate juror would replace that person and would step in Tuesday.
At one point, defense attorney Kris Winemiller also asked prosecutor Shawn Overstreet to step away from her and said he still had COVID-19 symptoms. Overstreet said he does not have COVID-19 symptoms, he has allergy symptoms.
The next topic addressed was the motion the defense filed for judgment of acquittal for Nancy. The prosecution argued that it has produced enough evidence in its case that a fact-finder could find Nancy guilty and the judge agreed.
The defense also took issue with a recent development in the prosecution’s case and a witness the prosecution may decide to call in their rebuttal.
Overstreet said the prosecution had received some sort of letter related to Nancy in March. They didn’t know what it meant at the time or the identities of the other two women whose first names were in the letter. It wasn’t until last week that they determined the two women had been in jail with Nancy and might have spoken to her about the murder.
Portland Police Bureau sent detectives to a prison in Texas on Wednesday, April 27 to speak with Andrea Jacobs, one of the women mentioned in the letter who was in jail with Nancy. They interviewed her and in their conversation, Jacobs said Nancy told her she was “this far away when the shooting happened” and held up her arms to indicate a distance.
Jacobs said her conversation with Nancy grew awkward after that and she changed the subject.
She said she told her attorney what Nancy had said after Nancy’s defense investigators visited the jailhouse looking for potential witnesses to support Nancy. Jacobs said she’d heard what Nancy said about the shooting and didn’t want to be involved as a witness for the defense, so she told her attorney.
Jacobs told detectives she didn’t want anything to do with the investigation at the time, but would be willing to speak as a witness now.
Prosecutors say they’ve reached out to Jacobs’ former attorney requesting notes of their conversation about what Nancy said.
The prosecution said if Jacobs testifies, she will not be a cooperating witness, just a normal witness. They said she’s already taken a plea deal and is serving out that sentence.
The defense said they believe Jacobs is currently being investigated for hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of Medicaid fraud in Oregon and that she might hope that by testifying she could sway her outcome in that investigation. The prosecution said they’re unaware of this fraud investigation.
Judge Ramras said he’s not willing to proactively exclude a witness. He said the prosecution will need to do more research and be certain they’ll call the witness. Then, he’ll need to know what the witness plans to say before he makes a decision.
The only witness to take the stand Tuesday morning was James Denny, the man hired as a landscaper for the Brophys’ yard before Daniel was murdered.
Denny said he started working with the Brophys in December 2017 and the work continued through about August of 2018.
The Brophys hired him to clean up their backyard, which was horribly overgrown with blackberries.
“This was probably the worst, as far as blackberries and having to remove stuff, probably the worst one I did,” said Denny, who’s worked in landscaping since 1955.
He said he could tell it was once a beautiful garden, but was overrun by blackberries.
Nancy was the person Denny primarily spoke to. He said she regularly reminded him to make sure everything he was doing was OK with Daniel and to not remove anything Daniel did not want him to remove.
He said Daniel seemed nervous about having someone work in his yard, but there was never friction between the two of them. Denny said he never saw Nancy and Daniel fight about the work he was doing. He said Nancy emphasized that she wanted to make Daniel happy.
Denny was told his goal was to make the yard nice enough to sell the house. By the time he was done with it, he said someone could have planted a yard or started a new garden in the yard.
In total, the Brophys paid more than $20,000 for Denny’s work.