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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Sirens & Gavels

Steele’s defense points to Fairfax set up

There's no doubt that the federal government has evidence in its case against Edgar Steele, his lawyer says, but all that evidence points back to Larry Fairfax, who claims to have been hired by Steele to kill his wife and mother-in-law.

The pipe bomb strapped to Cyndi Steele's SUV was Fairfax's "act of defiance," Robert McAllister said, referring to a book Fairfax has said he wants to write. 
He reminded jurors that Cyndi Steele said there were problems with the recordings in which her husband discussed the plot to kill her with Fairfax, such as unexplained breaks and syntax issues. 
"There is one conclusion about those recordings: they are nothing but tar," McAllister said. "...It's fantasy talk; it's fiction; it's Larry Fairfax talking and trying to set up Edgar Steele."
"Unfortunately in real life, this is more than just trying to write a book, it's putting people's lives in danger," McAllister said
He emphasized that Fairfax admits to attaching a pipe bomb to Cyndi Steele's SUV but didn't tell the FBI about it when he told them he could set up Edgar Steele.
"No one knows that until June 15, when it's found," he said. 
McAllister said Steele had no reason to want his wife dead. Claims by the prosecution that Steele was in love with a woman he met on the Internet are wrong  - the communication was part of Steele's examination of the Russian bride scam.
"The whole Russian bride scam was a case, something to work on. It was something his family laughed about, because it was so fake," McAllister said. "It's fantasy... it's not a motive to commit murder. it's not a reason to commit murder."
He said the Steeles talked regularly on the phone, including a 43-minute conversation the day before prosecutors say Cyndi was to be killed. McAllister also reminded jurors that Edgar Steele recently paid $2,779 to save his mother-in-law's home.
"If there's really a plot or a plan, do you go take that kind of money and give it to someone else, who you're supposedly going to kill?" McAllister said.
"The evidence in this case is that he loves Cyndi Steele, that he spent 25 years - now 26 - married to her with three children," McAllister said.
He said the couple did have problems 10 years ago, but "the evidence in the next 10 years is that they raised their family" lived in North Idaho and were happy.
"Never did Edgar Steele show anything besides love for his family," McAllister said. He pointed to the longtime friends who told jurors how shocked they were by the allegations.
He said the phone call Steele made to his wife from the jail doesn't qualify as victim tampering. Cyndi Steele has said she wasn't influenced by the call, and Edgar Steele didn't know of the specifics of the recordings when he called Cyndi Steele.
"Yes she doesn't believe that her husband is trying harm her, but she doesn't know about what Mr. Fairfax or what (his cousin) Mr. (James) Maher might want to do to her," McAllister said. "All she knows is a bomb was found under her car."
"I'm sure the government will say 'she's in denial, she's wrong,' but the fact is this is the victim...coming before a jury and saying 'I don't believe it.'"

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