HAMILTON, Ohio (AP) — A Kentucky man posed as a repairman to get into an 87-year-old Ohio woman's home, then shocked her with a stun gun, choked her and cut her throat, a prosecutor said in opening statements at the man's murder trial.
Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser told jurors Wednesday that Daniel French killed Barbara Howe after getting into her home in a Monroe retirement community by telling her he was there to repair a medical alert system. After choking Howe, French took her to a crawl space below her cottage, where he slit her throat, the prosecutor said.
"The evidence will show she bled to death there," Gmoser said, according to a report by the Hamilton-Middletown Journal-News.
The coroner's ruling that Howe bled to death contradicts French's statement to police in which he said he accidentally strangled Howe when she fought back and later cut her throat, the prosecutor said.
French took money and put Howe in the trunk of her car, pouring peroxide and other chemicals on her body and driving to a Middletown apartment complex where he abandoned the car, Gmoser said. Police in Middletown, about 30 miles north of Cincinnati, found the car on Nov. 1, 2012.
Defense attorney Lawrence Hawkins III acknowledged in his opening statement that French killed Howe. "But that's not really what this case is about," he said, according to a report by The Cincinnati Enquirer.
Hawkins said French did not purposely kill Howe. "The plan was to steal from the residence, not kill," Hawkins said.
French, 57, of Berea, Kentucky, has pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery, tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse, but he pleaded not guilty to aggravated murder. Conviction on that charge could result in the death penalty.