UPDATE: Jury deliberations begin in Richter murder trial - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UPDATE: Jury deliberations begin in Richter murder trial


After 7 days of testimony from 27 witnesses, and dozens of pieces of evidence, the fate of Tracey Richter is in the hands of a jury.

Prosecutors, and defense attorneys, wrapped up their cases with closing arguments this morning.

 "If you believe the defendant's bizarre story of a home invasion, and protecting her family, she's not guilty. But, that's not what the evidence shows," Prosecutor Doug Hammerand said.

What prosecutors say the evidence does show is that Tracey Richter killed Dustin Wehde after forcing him to write, in a pink spiral notebook, that he was hired by her ex-husband, John Pitman, to kill her and her son, Bert.

"The pink, spiral notebook contained information that only the someone involved in the crime could know," said Hammerand.

John Pitman testified he'd never met Wehde and didn't even know who he was.

"The handwriting is Dustin Wehde's, but the defendant provided the content," said Hammerand.

Doug Hammerand says Richter had to act. Following her move to Iowa, with new husband Michael Roberts, she faced losing custody of her son to Pitman.

"She came up with a plan that John Pitman was behind Dustin Wehde coming into her home and attacking her and killing her, and her son," Hammerand said. "She could not take a chance that he would be alive. So, she fired until the gun was empty."

But, Richter's attorneys insist two people broke into her home. And, she shot Dustin Wehde, a man with a history of mental health problems, in self-defense. Scott Bandstra says Sac County investigator Dennis Cessford told him as much when asked why the investigation didn't go farther.

"He said 'we didn't do it because we thought it was self-defense,'" Bandstra said. "John Cayton indicated the law enforcement investigation was sloppy, lazy or incompetent."

Bandstra says investigators didn't videotape the crime scene, scrape Richter's fingernails for DNA, or preserve Richter's clothes as evidence. When it comes to the pink, spiral notebook, Bandstra says investigators waited eight years to fingerprint it. And, Richter's fingerprints weren't on it.

"Have they produced one witness to show that Dustin and Tracey were in there... telling Dustin what to write? No." said Bandstra.

He also added that investigators didn't bother to compare prints from the notebook to anyone else.

"They didn't want to find a second intruder," added Bandstra.

Bandstra says he believes prosecutors, who say Richter "made up" the home invasion story, have fabricated their case.

"It's part of "staged evidence" in this matter." 

The jury of six men and six women got the case, and began deliberations, at about 2:00 p.m. Friday. They can consider three possible verdicts. Guilty of first-degree murder, guilty of second-degree murder, or not guilty.

The jury has gone home for the weekend and will return at 9:00 a.m. Monday to continue deliberations.

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