Stark back in jail after contact with witness
A woman accused of killing her husband whose first-degree murder trial is expected to start this week is back in jail.
Shellye L. Stark, 47, was jailed early Monday evening after she was spotted with her fiancé, Brian Moore, who’s listed as a state witness, during a break in jury questioning.
Stark is prohibited from having contact with state witnesses, so Spokane County Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen issued a bench warrant that revoked her $250,000 bond Monday upon the request of the prosecution. She won’t be allowed to post another, court papers show.
She’s already paid the nonrefundable 10 percent of the bond twice – first a month after the Dec. 9, 2007, shooting death of her husband, Dale Robert Stark, then in June after her GPS tracking device showed she’d left the area, also a violation of her release conditions.
Stark is claiming self defense, and a national domestic violence expert is expected to testify for the defense that years of marital abuse prompted an overreaction when her husband threatened her.
Prosecutor Mark Cipolla and defense lawyers Russell Bradshaw and Bryan Whitaker declined comment Tuesday, but court minutes show the defense acknowledged the contact but pleaded with Eitzen to allow Stark to stay free.
“We are just days away from this judgment for her,” Bradshaw told the court. “… Her testimony is going to be a heck of an emotional day, and I still need to be able to sit down and just be with her on that.”
He asked Eitzen for an exception allowing Stark to see Moore, as has been granted for other state witnesses such as her nephew, sisters, mother and son, but Eitzen ordered Stark to stay off the jail phone and have no unauthorized contact with state witnesses, including Moore.
“Apparently she has had quite a bit of time with this gentleman in violation of a court order,” Eitzen said, according to court minutes.
Moore, of Orange County, Calif., is described as “under investigation in California and Washington for numerous crimes” in the motion from the prosecution asking for the warrant.
In a 3-page statement blasting the investigation issued last week, Moore said he’s still facing questions for his role in the shooting. Moore has said he met Stark through an online message board devoted to prostitution while Stark was working under the name Nikita Jennifer.
According to Monday’s court minutes, Cipolla watched Stark kiss Moore and get in his yellow sports car Monday afternoon, and that Moore then told Spokane police Detective Kip Hollenbeck that he’d been staying with Stark at her Spokane apartment.
In a statement Tuesday, Moore blasted the decision and compared Hollenbeck to Dale Stark, whom the defense have said in court was a compulsive gambler who flew into a rage at the slight disturbance and was threatening to kill Moore and Shellye Stark.
“Hollenbeck is the new and much more evil Dale Stark and has continued the abuse in his place,” Moore wrote. Hollenbeck declined comment.
Shellye Stark told police she was at Dale Stark’s home in December 2007 with her nephew to serve a restraining order when he came home from a business trip about 1:45 a.m. and threatened her.
Prosecutors filed a conspiracy to murder charge against Stark last week that says she conspired with her sister, Karen Jacquetta, and mother, Dennise Johnson, to obtain the gun used to kill her husband.
Police reports say Jacquetta was en route to Spokane from Priest River with the gun the day before the killing when she hit a moose, but her son retrieved the gun from the wreckage and gave it to his aunt in the Deaconess Medical Center parking lot.
The jury pool under questioning is the second called.
Last week, Eitzen issued a continuance because the defense told prospective jurors the case didn’t involve the death penalty.
Bradshaw and Deputy Prosecutor Larry Haskell drafted an additional question for the new jurors Tuesday that asks about preconceptions of punishment in an attempt to gage whether they knew of last week’s decision.
The new jury could be seated today, and opening arguments are still expected this week.