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Nona Dirksmeyer Beauty Queen Murder Trial: Prosecution Rests in Case Against Neighbor Gary Dunn

Nona Dirksmeyer (David Clair) David Clair

Clarksville, Ark. (CBS)  The big plastic container of "Sweet Stripes" candy and the oversize bag of Wint-o-Green Lifesavers were newly positioned on the defense  table, at the start of week three of the State of Arkansas v. Gary Dunn capital murder trial for the killing of 19-year-old Arkansas beauty queen Nona Dirksmeyer.

All signs were pointing to another long week in court.

But then the prosecution rested Tuesday after its final two witnesses in the case: Dunn's estranged wife Jennifer and Special Police Agent Stacie Rhoads. They both significantly bolstered the State's case -- but is there enough to find Dunn guilty of murder?

Gary Dunn (CBS)

For much of the trial thus far, evidence against Nona's boyfriend, Kevin Jones, was the focus of the testimony, even  though he was acquitted of the murder in 2007. And the testimony against Dunn has primarily been about inconsistencies in his alibi about Dec.15, 2005, the day Nona was found brutally beaten to death inside her apartment in Russellville, Ark. -- in the same complex, and just yards away from where Dunn and his wife Jennifer lived at the time.

Jennifer, taking the stand for the first time, testified not only about regular sexual abuse she said Gary inflicted on her in their marriage, but of a potentially tell-tale incident just weeks before Nona's murder. It was about 3 AM when Jennifer says she noticed Gary was not in bed, so she went outside to look for him and saw him exiting Nona's apartment door, just "down the hill."  An angry Jennifer confronted her husband and even went over to berate Nona and another unidentified young woman who was with her. Jennifer could not recall the exact heated conversation, but it led to her eventual suspicions about Dunn being involved in Nona's death.

So that surely helped the State's case, as did the testimony of the special agent who became lead investigator starting in 2008, and ended up finding the inconsistencies in Dunn's alibi. But jurors have yet to hear from defense witnesses, although it remains the State's burden to prove 30-year-old Gary Dunn murdered Nona Dirksmeyer.

Expect closing arguments by Thursday...well before the mints and "Sweet Stripes" are all gone.

MORE ON CRIMESIDERApril 16, 2010 - Nona Dirksmeyer Beauty Queen Murder Trial: Gary Dunn Defense Points to Acquitted Boyfriend


This story was reported by veteran CBS News producer Allen Alter, who is covering the Gary Dunn murder trial for 48 Hours Mystery, and has followed the Nona Dirksmeyer case for several years.

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