Jury returns verdict in Holts Summit murder trial

Sandra Plunkett found guilty of murder in the death of her husband, former Jefferson City police officer Paul Plunkett

Sandra Plunkett (left), talks with defense council while the jury deliberates the case against her for first-degree murder today. The jury found her guilty in the murder of her husband, former Jefferson City Police Officer Paul Plunkett, and armed criminal actions. She was sentenced to life without parole.

Sandra Plunkett (left), talks with defense council while the jury deliberates the case against her for first-degree murder today. The jury found her guilty in the murder of her husband, former Jefferson City Police Officer Paul Plunkett, and armed criminal actions. She was sentenced to life without parole. Photo by Brittany Ruess.

Updated with family reaction at 2:20 p.m.

Paul Plunkett's family released a statement after Sandra Plunkett was found guilty of first-degree murder and armed criminal action.

The statement reads:

"It has obviously been a long, difficult and stressful three years for everyone involved. While we are certainly hurt by the lack of remorse and falsehoods presented by the defendant, we sincerely appreciate the patience and wisdom demonstrated by the Judge and jury in this trial.

It is also our hope that the Jefferson City community will choose to remember the reputation Paul achieved prior to his murder; a person committed to public service, a person who believed in the criminal justice system, a person who treated people fairly regardless of their status and one with an outstanding personality that so many recognized and expressed to the family during his extended sickness and death."

Read the full statement below. (Mobile devices here)

Sandra Plunkett's family chose a long-time family friend, Vince Halbert, to speak on behalf of the family after the verdict was read today.

Halbert said Plunkett's family is taking the verdict "very hard" and feels first-degree murder was "harsh" in this situation.

"It's tough to think that your daughter is going to prison for life," Halbert said.

Halbert said he wished Plunkett would have said something about her alleged abuse from her husband, but added that battered woman often don't speak up about their suffering.

Halbert also said he was aware of Plunkett's problems with drugs, but was aware if her family knew of her addiction.

Kyle McIntyre, chief of the Holts Summit Police Department, also released a statement regarding the trial.

"With the jury's decision to return a guilty verdict, Paul's family and his law enforcement brothers and sisters can now begin to put this case behind them," the statement reads. "Many of the officers working on this investigation knew Paul personally; however they remained true to their oath and acted professionally when dealing with Sandra despite knowing she was the person responsible for Paul's death."

Read the full statement from the Holts Summit Police Department below. (Mobile devices here)

Updated with verdict at 1:19 p.m.

After three hours of deliberation, the jury found Sandra Plunkett guilty of murder in the first degree Friday afternoon. They also delivered a guilty verdict on charges of armed criminal action. She was sentenced to life without parole. Presiding Judge Gary Oxenhandler will determine her sentence for the armed criminal action charge, which will be at least three years. The judge will determine the exact number of years for that charge.

Original story posted Friday:

A jury began deliberating this morning after hearing closing statements from Callaway County Prosecuting Attorney Chris Wilson and Sandra Plunkett's defense attorney Justin Carver.

Taped interviews from Jan. 4, 2011, that were admitted as evidence in court this week include a confession from Plunkett that she murdered her husband, Paul Plunkett — a retired Jefferson City police officer.

In Wilson's closing statements Friday morning, he restated the state's belief that Sandra Plunkett's murder of her husband was financially motivated to pay for her heroin addiction.

Wilson also said Plunkett was a liar, pointing out several times she lied to investigators about what occurred on the day of Paul's death. He said Plunkett claiming self defense is a "glorious lie," and restated the only person with first-hand account of abuse is Plunkett.

Plunkett is claiming self defense and testified Paul Plunkett abused her from 1999 to 2010.

Carver said again Sandra Plunkeet committed the murder as an act of self defense because Paul Plunkett was abusive. Carver also used Paul Plunkett's connection to police as a reason Sandra Plunkett did not report abuse. Carver referenced an interview between Sandra Plunkett and Sgt. David Rice with the Missouri State Highway Patrol from January 2011 during his closing statement.

In that interview, Rice assured Plunkett investigators would find the person responsible for her husband's murder, stating "we take care of our own." That statement Rice made to Sandra, Carver said, reinstated the idea she was afraid of contacting police, and also played into investigators' loyalty to Paul Plunkett when solving the case.

In his rebuttal, Wilson said "we take care of our own" was a way for Rice and investigators to assure Sandra Plunkett they were going to help her, as she was the wife of a former police officer.

The couple lived in Holts Summit at the time of the murder.

Earlier coverage:

Jury hears testimony of Sandra Plunkett

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