(BURLINGTON, Vt.) — A husband accused of kidnapping and killing a schoolteacher in Vermont says his wife committed the crime — and that he initially confessed to protect her.
Allen Prue, 32, and his wife Patricia Prue, 35, face kidnapping and first-degree murder charges in the 2012 death of Melissa Jenkins, 33. The husband and wife are being tried separately, with testimony continuing Thursday in Allen Prue’s trial. Patricia Prue’s trial is expected to begin next month.
In opening statements in Vermont Superior Court Wednesday, prosecutors said the couple lured Jenkins from her home with a phone call, claiming their car had broken down. Allen Prue had previously performed snowplow work for Jenkins.
The prosecution claims that Allen Prue told police that the couple’s plan that night was to “get a girl,” somebody “they could play with,” according to Caledonia County State’s Attorney Lisa Warren’s opening statement.
But defense lawyer Robert Katims claimed that Allen Prue was unaware of his wife’s intention to kill Jankins.
“In her crazy, twisted mind she had become obsessively jealous of Melissa Jenkins. The evidence will show that Patricia Prue strangled Melissa Jenkins without telling him she was going to do it, without planning it with him and without Allen Prue aware in any way shape or form,” Katims said.
Jenkins agreed to help her neighbors, and that act of kindness cost Jenkins her life, the prosecutor said.
“She got out of her vehicle, and as she did, she was strangled and beaten to death,” Warren said.
Police found Jenkins’ car abandoned, with her 2-year-old son in the back seat.
“Someone pulled on mommy’s neck,” the boy later told officers.
While Allen Prue confessed to the crime in 2012, he’s pleading not guilty, with his defense stating that he only confessed to protect his wife. Allen Prue didn’t realize his wife’s intentions and was easily manipulated due to his low IQ, Katims said.
Authorities say Patricia Prue, who has also pleaded not guilty, was the one who called Jenkins, convincing the science teacher to come to the couple’s aid.
Legal analyst Mark Eiglarsh said the relationship between husband and wife will be a major focus of the trial.
“Theoretically, he could argue that his wife did it all, get acquitted, and testify in her trial that he did it all,” Eiglarsh said.
Patricia Prue’s legal team is expected to focus on her history of mental illness. If convicted, Allen and Patricia Prue could spend the rest of their lives behind bars.
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