DANVILLE — Dr. Steven Hall, accused of murder in the 2009 death of his wife, told a file clerk in his Harrodsburg office he had fallen in love with her and wanted to divorce his wife eventually, the clerk testified Tuesday.
But the clerk, Lori Devine, testified, "I did not feel that way towards him," and said she told Hall, "I'm sorry if I have given you the wrong, mixed signals."
Hall, 48, is accused of killing his wife, Isabel, 49, by striking her with a pontoon boat on Herrington Lake in Boyle County. She died May 29, 2009, on what began as a celebration of the couple's 21st wedding anniversary.
During his opening statement, Commonwealth's Attorney Richie Bottoms said Steven Hall had become infatuated with Devine, and Bottoms suggested that relationship as a possible motive for murder.
But in his opening statement, defense attorney Steve Romines said Devine told police she saw Hall as a "big brother" and there was no romantic relationship.
Devine, 32, the divorced mother of three, testified that Steven Hall never made sexual advances toward her. She began working in the family practice with Hall and other physicians in September 2006.
Devine said Hall had taken her on a ski trip to Indiana in early 2009, and took her and her children on a pontoon boat ride on Herrington Lake about a month before Isabel Hall's death. About a month after the ski trip, Hall asked Devine to come into his office and asked her to close the door, she said At that time he confessed that "he had started to have feelings for me," Devine said.
In addition, Hall asked Devine whether she could wait three years for him to divorce Isabel.
Devine, who now lives in Texas, said she made it clear "I did not see him that way at all."
Two other employees in the office testified they noticed Steven Hall's growing attention toward Devine. "I don't feel it was mutual," nurse Erica Brown said.
"I don't feel that Lori was, for lack of a better word, stuck on him, but he was obviously paying a lot more attention to her than he ever did before," Brown said.
Brown also said she saw Hall and Devine together during an "end-of-season soccer bash" at Anderson-Dean Community Park in Harrodsburg.
On cross-examination, Romines noted the park was a busy place, and "it would not be a very good place to slip around on your wife."
"No," Brown said.
"Did you ever see Dr. Hall and Lori Devine do anything inappropriate?" Romines asked.
"No," Brown said.
Nor did office manager Pam Shelton see anything inappropriate between Hall and Devine, she said. However, Shelton acknowledged under questioning from Bottoms that she had become concerned enough about the relationship that she had spoken to Dr. Nick Dedman, another physician in the practice with Hall, about it.
Devine said Hall also paid for some groceries for her; sent her cards, candy and flowers; and would show up at soccer matches.
Devine said she had become uncomfortable with the attention and spoke with Mercer County Sheriff Chris Kehrt about it.
Devine also noted Isabel Hall assisted in the search for a house to rent when Devine sought to move from Nicholasville to Harrodsburg.
In his opening statement Tuesday morning, Bottoms told the jury of six men and seven women "the evidence will show that Steven Hall is a killer."
Rather than an anniversary, the boating excursion turned into a "terrible day of domestic violence."
In Romines' opening statement, he said Hall told police more than 40 times during a three-hour interview that what happened on the lake was an accident.
"Every bit of evidence you hear will show that's what it was," Romines said.
He said things turned sour on the boat trip when Isabel Hall, after a swim, began to lose the top of her bathing suit and told her husband that she had trouble keeping it on since she'd had breast-reduction surgery.
Steven Hall responded, "They're bigger than Lori's," which started a fight between the couple, Romines said.
Isabel Hall ended up in the water, and the boat struck her. Witnesses told police Steven Hall gunned the boat toward her, but Romines said Hall told police he "floored it" to help his wife as quickly as possible.
The trial will resume at 9 a.m. Wednesday in Boyle Circuit Court with testimony from a state police detective who investigated Isabel Hall's death.