Death Without Mercy
Oklahoma City Thunder center Kendrick Perkins (5) is defended by San Antonio Spurs center Tim Duncan (21) during the first half of Game 3 in their NBA basketball Western Conference finals playoff series, Thursday, May 31, 2012, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki) (Sue Ogrocki)
The lead prosecutor on the case, Ashdown says that as paralysis slowly crept over him, a terrified Jimmy would have been totally helpless.
The state's theory of the crime is this: Shelly lifted the vial of rocuronium from the hospital, injected Jimmy - probably while he slept - and then around 6 a.m. left for work as usual, only to secretly return home some two hours later.
Asked if she thinks Shelly had enough time in 17 minutes to head home, light a fire, and return to the hospital, Ashdown says, "Yes. It only takes, even by her own accounting, maybe four or five minutes one way, and how long does it take to flick a Bic?"
But why then was the fire not spotted until 10:30 a.m., two hours after Shelly was seen at the house?
Ashdown says it's very significant that all the windows and doors to their bedroom were closed. "This was an oxygen-deprived fire, meaning that it could burn in a limited area for a period of time until some smoldering is sufficient to burn into something else that then becomes fuel," she says.
A fire that smolders for hours, then suddenly bursts into flames? To Shelly's lawyer, Tom Dyer, that makes no sense. "This fire had to have started sometime after 10 o'clock. There's no evidence of any delayed combustion device or anything like that," he points out.
Not only is there no hard evidence against Shelly, Dyer insists she had no motive, not even the affair. Shelly's reputation after all, was for loving and leaving her men. Not killing them. "She has had affairs and run around on other men previously, she's divorced previously, she's taken advantage of her relationships with men in the past and never harmed any of them," he explains.
Prosecutors say the motive is obvious: it turns out Jimmy had recently taken out a half-million dollar life insurance policy.
But despite the money, and despite the affair, Shelly swears she is innocent. As for the drug, rocuronium, Shelly says, "I work with it every day. And I had nothing to do with it."
She has another suspect in mind. "I know that there was one person that gave him a lot of trouble all the time. Constantly. Made him miserable. Seemed like it was her point in life to make him miserable. And it worked," Shelly says.
Shelly is talking about Stephanie Estel, Jimmy's ex wife. But she has an alibi: Stephanie was at home with her new baby.
"Making trouble for somebody is a long way from injecting them with rocuronium and setting the house on fire. You can't believe that about her," Spencer tells Shelly.
"I can believe that she is capable of it. Yes, I can," she replies.
But the challenge for the defense is to convince the jury that Shelly isn't capable of it and her lawyer is worried that jurors may decide to punish her for the affair, for lying, or for simply not being the bubbly ex-cheerleader and perfect mother she tried to present to the world.
"She has a reputation for bein' a bit abrasive, bit of a disciplinarian around her children and those who were working with her and for her, under her at the hospital," Dyer says.
Asked if the jury is going to like Shelly, or whether it matters, Dyer says, "Sure. Absolutely. I mean, it's especially important when the state's case is entirely circumstantial."
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