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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
News >  Crime/Public Safety

Pettis’ daughter says mother took pain killers after injury from boar, leading to overdose years later

Dec. 8, 2021 Updated Wed., Dec. 8, 2021 at 10:01 p.m.

A jury convicted David Pettis on Monday of killing his wife, Peggy Pettis, by poisoning her ice cream with hydrocodone.  (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
A jury convicted David Pettis on Monday of killing his wife, Peggy Pettis, by poisoning her ice cream with hydrocodone. (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW) Buy this photo

Elizabeth Culp raised a boar’s tusk toward the jury and burst into tears Wednesday.

The boar gored her mother, Peggy Pettis, with its sharp tooth in 2016 while she was working on the Pettis’ Cheney farm, Culp said.

She said it left her mother with a limp and pain until her death in 2018.

“It’s the reason my mom overdosed on hydros,” Culp said.

David Pettis, 60, is accused of killing his wife, Peggy Pettis, 64, by grinding up a lethal dose of hydrocodone and putting it in her ice cream. He sobbed along with his daughter as she testified Wednesday in Spokane County Superior Court.

Culp said David Pettis told her he ground the hydrocodone and put the powder in Peggy Pettis’ ice cream the night of June 25, 2018. She died hours later. Court documents said the hydrocodone was about 10 times the “therapeutic amount.”

Culp said David and Peggy Pettis would frequently crush the pain medication into powder and put it in the woman’s pudding, ice cream or other soft foods so the pills were easier to consume, meaning her father’s actions were ordinary that night, according to Culp.

She said Peggy Pettis would often have “coughing fits” just by sipping water.

Culp testified she told law enforcement after her mother’s death she was unaware of her having swallowing problems, but then recalled Peggy Pettis would have a “coughing attack” a couple of times a week just by drinking water.

David Pettis’ attorneys have argued Peggy Pettis’ death was accidental or suicidal instead of homicidal.

Culp and previous witnesses said they did not think Peggy Pettis was the type of person who would commit suicide.

Rekindling a flame

Robin Kaylor, who lives in New York, said Wednesday in court David Pettis was her childhood friend and the two dated in high school.

She said they reconnected around 2008 and then again in November 2017, when David Pettis traveled to New York for a funeral.

Pettis stayed at the residence of Kaylor, who said she is married but has not lived with her husband since 2000, when he was in New York for the funeral.

Kaylor said he attempted to be intimate with her.

“I stopped it. I just couldn’t. He’s married,” Kaylor said.

Kaylor said David Pettis continued to express his love for her in the following months while he was still married to Peggy Pettis.

She said he spoke about proposing to her and his desire for her to stay in Cheney for summer 2018. He even talked about living together in New York.

Kaylor said the proposal talk was “silly,” and it was “weird” he wanted her to stay the summer in Washington.

She said David Pettis told her he and Peggy Pettis were not intimate and that he referred to Kaylor as his “New York wife” or “East Coast wife.”

She also said Peggy Pettis told her through a message that it was OK for Kaylor and David Pettis to be intimate.

Kaylor said David Pettis told her after his wife’s death he often ground up hydrocodone for Peggy Pettis to take with ice cream floats and alcohol mixed together.

She said he did that the night she died.

She said David Pettis also told her Peggy Pettis would grind up the pain medications and put it in her desserts with alcohol at night.

The prosecution is expected to finish calling its witnesses today. A lengthy video is expected to be played for the jurors.

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