Marty Roe trial opens with defense pointing finger at victim's husband

gkocher1@herald-leader.comAugust 6, 2013 

The prosecution and defense presented vastly different scenarios in their opening statements Tuesday in the trial of Marty Roe, the man accused of murder in the shooting death of Lexington dermatologist Dr. Martha Post.

The prosecution said Roe, 67, was obsessed with Post to the point that he repeatedly left phone messages and text messages professing his love, commissioned a portrait of her, and had two tattoos involving her — one with her initials in a rose vine and another with their names in a heart along with the words "forever and a day."

But when Post did not reciprocate Roe's love, Roe shot her three times as she prepared to back out from a parking place at her office in Huguenard Drive, the prosecution contends.

"Obsession is a very dangerous thing," Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Brad Bryant said.

But co-defense counsel Robert Friedman said jurors should pay attention and ask themselves, "To whose benefit?"

Under the defense theory, "someone other than the accused stood to gain financially" from Dr. Post's death, and that someone was her husband, Dr. Robert Truitt, Friedman said.

The evidence will show that Truitt, whose internal medicine practice was in the same building as Post's office, "could have expected quite a substantial financial gain" upon his wife's death, Friedman said.

Post, 55, was shot in the neck, chest and left thigh on Sept. 1, 2011, as she prepared to back her van out of the parking lot at her office. The van rolled into a car on Huguenard Drive.

After the shooting, Lexington police focused on Roe, a transient whom Post and Truitt had befriended and invited to their home. Truitt told police that Roe had been stalking his wife.

Roe had been a handyman who lived in the basement of the building where Post and Truitt had their offices, but he was fired for "inappropriate behavior" toward Post, Bryant said.

In open court, Bryant played a series of recorded phone messages from June 2010 and August 2011 in which Roe was heard to profess his love for Post.

"I got to fall in love with you. Now my life is complete," Roe said in one call. "I can die a happy man. ... I miss you every day."

In another message, Roe said, "I love you. I can't help it. I've tried everything I can do to get you out of my heart, out of my mind. ... Just give me a call, OK? Love you."

Six days after the shooting, Roe was arrested in a bar in Lakeview, Ohio, on a warrant for harassing communications stemming from phone calls he made to Post.

Police found a gun in the engine compartment of his van. A forensics expert will testify that shell casings found at the shooting scene were fired from that gun, and that Roe's DNA was found in the gun grips, Bryant said.

But Friedman asked the eight women and six men on the jury to keep an open mind and a questioning mind: "What does this fact mean and to whose benefit?"

Dr. Truitt's practice was on the decline, Friedman said. He cited figures showing that income to Truitt's practice had slid from $87,000 in 2008 to $10,000 in 2011.

"He didn't see enough patients to break even," Friedman said.

On the day she was shot, Post had a meeting with an accountant who helped medical practices with their finances, Friedman said. Her practice had begun to suffer because of problems with Truitt's practice, Friedman said.

The news that the accountant was to relay to Post "was not going to be good about continuing the way things were," Friedman said.

Among the 10 witnesses to testify Tuesday were Elizabeth Post, Martha Post's sister, and Caitlin Post, one of Martha Post's three daughters.

Elizabeth Post testified that when she was asked by police whether anyone would have wanted to hurt her sister, she answered: "The one person who came to mind was Marty Roe."

Elizabeth Post was aware that Roe had sent voicemails and text messages to her sister "that were of a sexual nature." The messages were "creepy, haunting," Elizabeth Post said.

She said Truitt had purchased a revolver "because he was afraid" of Roe.

Caitlin Truitt, 22, a student at Tulane University in New Orleans, testified that she was aware that Roe had been trying to communicate with her mother.

"There was a fear in my family — we were just afraid of him," Caitlin Truitt said.

Susie Castle, an employee who had worked in Martha Post's office, said that after Roe was fired, a necklace came to the office in a box, and she recognized Roe's handwriting.

"I really didn't know what to think," Castle said. "I just thought it was odd."

Castle gained more access to the financial records of Martha Post's practice. As she taught Castle how to do the books, Post "would get a text from Marty," Castle testified. "It would basically say 'I miss you. I love you. Come get me.'"

Martha Post "would just shake her head," Castle testified. "She was tired of it."

When Friedman cross-examined Castle, he asked: Was Post's office ever late in paying bills?

"No, sir," Castle said.

But the office did have to make cuts that included dismissing three employees, Castle said.

The trial is scheduled to resume at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

Greg Kocher: (859) 231-3305. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety.

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