The jury started deliberating at 5 p.m. Monday in the murder trial of Windy Friend. Jurors heard closing arguments and the judge's legal instructions before getting the case.
Defense attorneys rested their case on Monday morning after Friend testified in her own defense. Friend is accused -- along with her husband, stepson and two other men -- of killing Rebecca and Rusty Porter in April 2011.
Friend told the jury that she had no hand in planning or killing the Porters, who lived along a rural highway north of Willard in Greene County. Someone broke into the Porters’ home, kidnapped them, took them to Taney County, and shot them in their heads before concealing their bodies in a wooded area near Protem.
Friend is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and could get a life prison sentence without chance of parole. Investigators say Rusty Porter’s uncle, Robert Campbell, hired Tony Friend to kidnap and kill the Porters because of a longstanding property feud between Campbell and Rusty Porter. Prosecutors said they have evidence that Tony Friend told people that he would be paid $100,000 for killing the Porters.
Investigators believe Tony Friend recruited his wife, Windy; his son, Phillip; and Dusty Hicks to carry out the crimes. They say 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.
Phillip Friend, Tony's son, 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. 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 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.
Hicks' trial is scheduled to begin May 9 and Campbell's trial is set to begin on Oct. 16.