Trial starts for Texas woman accused of 'black widow' murder

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 23, 2014 6:25 PM

By Marice Richter

FORT WORTH Texas (Reuters) - Prosecutors told a Texas court a woman shot her husband dead for insurance money and then launched a plot to frame someone else for the crime, as testimony started on Tuesday in a cased dubbed the "black widow" murder.

Lawyers for the defendant, Michele Williams, said in opening statements that her husband, Greg Williams, committed suicide.

Michele Williams, 45 and a mother of four, is on trial for murder and tampering with evidence. She faces up to life in prison if convicted of the 2011 killing of her husband in an affluent Fort Worth suburban neighborhood.

Prior to the trial, Williams had entered a guilty plea for a reduced charge of deadly conduct and tampering with evidence. She was due to be sentenced to 18 years in prison but she withdrew the plea and told the judge that she was innocent.

In an opening statement, prosecutor Jack Strickland called Williams a perpetual liar driven by greed and self-interest. She was the beneficiary of hundreds of thousands of dollars from insurance money.

"It was not millions but it was enough for her to get by," Strickland said.

As her husband slept, Michele Williams shot him in the head with a .45-caliber handgun, Strickland said.

After trying to mimic a break-in, Michele Williams called police to report that an intruder had broken into the house, injured her and shot her husband to death, prosecutors said.

Her 26-year-old son, Andrew O'Brien, testified on Tuesday that his mother had asked him to help her frame Greg Williams' ex-wife for his murder.

Prosecutors said that as evidence contradicted her version of events, she changed her story and said her husband had committed suicide.

Defense attorney Clay Graham said Williams lied to police so that their 4-year-old daughter would not think her father killed himself.

Graham said Greg Williams frequently used steroids that are known to cause depression and lead to suicide.

(Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Sandra Maler)