A Taney County jury convicted Windy Friend of two counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of Rusty and Rebecca Porter of rural Greene County. The verdict came on Monday about 9 p.m. after four hours of jury deliberations and votes.
Investigators believe Tony Friend recruited his wife, Windy; his son, Phillip; and Dusty Hicks to carry out the crimes after being promised $100,000 by Robert Campbell, Rusty Porter's uncle, who had a longstanding feud with Rusty Porter. Campbell and the Porters lived near each other along Highway HH north of Willard.
Investigators believe Windy was involved in the planning and knew when it was happening, and may have driven a vehicle when the Porters were taken from Greene County to Taney County. Windy Friend denied it.
Phillip Friend, who pleaded guilty last year for his role in the murders, testified last Thursday that he and his father, along with Hicks, went to the Porters’ house in the middle of the night and entered through a window. He said they went into their bedroom, flipped on the light, ordered the couple get their IDs and their cell phones, ziptied the couple, and kidnapped them.
Shortly after the kidnapping, Phillip Friend testified, Tony Friend shot and killed the Porters in a remote, wooded area of Taney County near Protem. Phillip also said the group had been on a 24-hour methamphetamine bender at this time.
In his closing argument, the defense attorney challenged Phillip Friend's testimony against Windy Friend.
"He’s here to make the best presentation he can make. He knows that, if he does a good job, and if he tells the truth as he sees it, then he believes he’ll get a better deal. He’ll get the 15 (years) instead of the 20," said defense attorney William Fleischaker.
"Despite Windy having every opportunity to tell detectives the truth, she chose to try to mislead them at every opportunity: four recorded statements and grand jury testimony and her testimony here this morning, all full of contradictions, discrepancies, lies. Why would that be, ladies and gentlemen? Well, I propose that is because Windy Friend is deeper than the detectives gave her credit for," Taney County Prosecuting Attorney Jeff Merrell told the jury in his closing argument.
Circuit Judge Mark Orr set Windy Friend's sentencing hearing for June 12. Prosecutors did not seek a death penalty, so the only sentence possible is life in prison without possibility of parole.
Hicks' trial is scheduled to begin May 9 and Campbell's trial is set to begin on Oct. 16. Tony Friend is serving a life prison sentence after pleading guilty to first-degree murder. Phillip Friend is awaiting sentencing for second-degree murder after agreeing to testify against the others as part of his guilty plea.