FORT DODGE, Iowa
(AP) — Iowa prosecutors tried Wednesday to debunk a woman's long-held claim that she was the victim of a home invasion when she shot a 20-year-old neighbor in 2001 and started building their case that she killed him as part of a bizarre plot to frame her ex-husband.
Prosecutor Douglas Hammerand said in an opening statement that Tracey Richter committed first-degree murder in the Dec. 13, 2001, death of Dustin Wehde at her home in Early, a small town in northwest Iowa. He said Richter had Wehde write a diary saying he had been hired by her ex-husband to kill her, but then she killed Wehde hours later after they were interrupted and she worried he would tell others about what he had done.
Richter, 45, appeared to fight back tears as defense attorney Scott Bandstra repeated her version of events in his opening statement: Richter was home with her three children when Wehde and another man broke in and strangled her with pantyhose before she was able to break free, secure her children in a bedroom, unlock the gun safe in her bedroom, grab two guns and shoot Wehde nine times. Bandstra said the alleged second intruder fled. At one point, the attorney even took his tie off and put it around Richter's neck to illustrate how she was allegedly choked.
But one prosecution witness, an emergency responder who treated Richter, said the red mark on the front of her neck was not consistent with strangulation. The deputy who arrived first on the scene said Richter told him that two intruders, not one, had fled the house. And a friend who planned to spend the night at Richter's home that evening said she was surprised when Richter cancelled their plans hours before the shooting. source