Former online prostitute Shellye L. Stark arrived Tuesday at the Spokane County Courthouse for a rare second chance to convince a jury that she was simply defending herself in 2007 when she shot her estranged husband to death at their South Hill home.
One jury already has convicted Stark, 50, of murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in the death of Dale R. Stark, rejecting her self-defense claims during a 2009 trial.
But that conviction was thrown out on appeal because of a technicality involving one of the instructions given to jurors. A second trial being argued before a new jury began Tuesday in Spokane County Superior Court.
Stark has argued that her late husband forced her into prostitution and verbally abused her.
Stark’s new attorneys, Edward Carroll and Dennis Dressler, did not offer opening statements and declined to comment after the first day of testimony before Judge Tari Eitzen.
Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Mark Cipolla is handling the case for the state after the original prosecutor, Larry Haskell, left to work for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Spokane.
Stark’s boyfriend, Brian L. Moore, remains in the Spokane County Jail on the same charges. He was tried earlier this year, but that case ended in a mistrial after the jury deadlocked at 11-1 to convict him. Prosecutors claim that Moore plotted the murder with Shellye Stark to benefit from Dale Stark’s life insurance policy.
Cipolla called two officers who responded to the scene, as well as Dale Stark’s mother and lead detective Kip Hollenbeck, who described statements Shellye Stark gave after the shooting.
“She told me she just wanted him to leave her alone,” Hollenbeck testified. “She said she grabbed the gun and shot him.”
Dressler asked if Shellye Stark said her husband was coming after her. Hollenbeck replied: “No.”
At one point during the testimony, the jury looked at photographs showing Dale Stark lying on the floor of his kitchen following the shooting. His mother cried as the jurors studied the photographs.
The trial is expected to continue through next week.