Widower of slain dermatologist testifies he had nothing to do with her death

gkocher1@herald-leader.comAugust 7, 2013 

Dr. Robert Truitt, widower of slain Lexington dermatologist Martha Post, testified Wednesday that he had nothing to do with her death.

The declaration came on the second day of testimony in the trial of Marty Roe, who is accused of murder in the Sept. 1, 2011, shooting death of Post. During opening statements Tuesday, defense attorney Robert Friedman told the jury that Truitt had the most to gain from Post's death.

On Wednesday, Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Larson asked Truitt: "Did you have anything to do with the murder of your wife?"

"No, I most certainly did not," Truitt said.

Instead, Truitt said he had been concerned by the numerous phone messages and texts that Roe had left for Post after Roe was dismissed as a maintenance man at the building where Truitt and Post had their medical practices.

"I had been afraid something was going to happen for months and months and months. ... It had always been in the back of my mind that Marty would try to get her," Truitt said.

For that reason, Truitt testified, he "wasn't entirely surprised" when police told him that his wife was dead.

"It was my worst nightmare come true," Truitt said. After her death, Truitt said, "I was a mess. I couldn't concentrate. It felt like somebody hit me over the head with a shovel."

The prosecution has said that Roe, 67, was obsessed with Post, and that when she didn't reciprocate his affections, Roe shot her three times as she backed her van out of the parking lot of her office on Huguenard Drive.

If convicted of murder, Roe could face 20 years to life in prison.

Truitt, 55, said he and Post had been married nearly 25 years at the time of her death. They had three daughters.

Truitt testified that he didn't know before her death how much life insurance Post had. After her death, he learned that she had $1.5 million in life insurance.

As Roe's phone messages became more frequent, Truitt testified, he had begun moving her van to lessen the chance of an ambush as she walked from the vehicle to the Huguenard Drive building.

"I thought Marty would eventually ambush her and kill her," Truitt said.

That's why, when police informed him that Post was dead, Truitt's initial reaction was "Was she shot?"

"That's what I thought Marty would do," Truitt said.

Under cross-examination by defense co-counsel Shannon Brooks-English, Truitt acknowledged that he had asked for a lawyer when he was initially approached by police and told about his wife's death.

"I wanted to find out what was going on with my wife and they weren't forthcoming," Truitt said. "I was desperate."

Furthermore, Truitt said the "tenor and tone" of the police toward him was "adversarial" and "antagonistic."

Brooks-English asked what Truitt meant when he told police that his marriage was "a facade." Truitt said he didn't recall saying that.

"If I said that, it would have meant we were carrying on the marriage to appear that we loved each other," Truitt said.

Truitt acknowledged under cross-examination that he had had "romantic" relationships — but not physical or intimate relationships — with two other women.

One was a woman whom he said he never met but with whom he "exchanged some messages on a chat room or something like that," he said.

The other woman was a dancer at Camelot East, a strip club in Lexington. This woman was addicted to drugs, and Truitt said he was eventually able to get her into a clinic to wean her off the narcotics. Truitt said he paid for her treatment, and met with her at various times to give her money.

On redirect, Larson said there "seems to be a theme" in that Post helped Roe, a formerly homeless man, and Truitt helped a single mother addicted to drugs.

Truitt responded: "We both are caregivers. We tried to help people out when we could, and it got one of us killed."

Roe was prohibited from coming onto the Huguenard Drive premises after his dismissal, according to earlier testimony. Truitt said he confronted Roe one day when he saw Roe walking nearby, toward Post's building.

"I told him, 'You're not supposed to be here anymore,'" Truitt said. Roe responded with a mumble, Truitt said.

The defense said in an opening statement Tuesday that Truitt's practice had seen its income decline over four years. Truitt confirmed that to be true.

"It wasn't doing as well as I hoped it would do," Truitt said. "We were struggling some with the practice."

However, Truitt's sister, Mary Ann Fernandez, who kept the books for Truitt's office, testified Wednesday that the practice actually had a 23 percent increase in net profit in its last year. Truitt closed the practice in 2012 and voluntarily surrendered his medical license.

In other testimony, Katherine Dunaway, who had been a registered medical assistant in Truitt's internal medicine practice, testified that, on the day Post was shot, she saw Roe driving a bright-green van near Huguenard Drive. But because the van didn't turn onto Huguenard, Dunaway said, she didn't alert Truitt or Post.

Choking back tears, Dunaway said, "That was the one time I didn't call them."

Roe initially told police he had not been in Lexington on the day Post was shot.

The jury also heard phone messages Roe left for Post. On one message recorded May 28, 2010, Roe invited Post to come see him in Ohio, where he was living.

"I'll give you a long tour of my bedroom," Roe said.

The trial resumes at 10:30 a.m. Thursday.

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

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