Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Murder of Jeanne Tovrea

Witnesses for the Prosecution

Maricopa County Jail
Maricopa County Jail

In October 1997, Harrod, who had been in custody at Maricopa County Jail since his arrest, stood before Judge Ronald S. Reinstein at Maricopa County Superior Court in October 1997 for burglary and the first-degree murder of Jeanne Tovrea. He pleaded not guilty to the charges, despite the overwhelming evidence against him. Harrod faced a possible death sentence, if found guilty.

Judge Ronald S. Reinstein Maricopa County Superior Court
Judge Ronald S. Reinstein Maricopa County Superior Court

At the beginning of the trial the prosecution, led by Maricopa County's Chief Deputy Prosecutor Paul Ahler, contended that Harrod entered through the only unsecured window of Jeanne's house on the night in question, made his way to her bedroom and cold-bloodedly murdered Jeanne as she slept in her bed. He told jurors that in the process of his crime, Harrod left behind numerous sets of fingerprints at the scene. He then alleged that Harrod rummaged around in Jeanne's bedroom and allegedly stole items in order to make it look as if her death had been the result of a burglary gone wrong instead of a premeditated murder. He suggested that the murder-for-hire scheme was orchestrated by Hap and carried out by Harrod in order to collect inheritance money.

Maricopa County's Chief Deputy Prosecutor Paul Ahler
Maricopa County's Chief Deputy Prosecutor Paul Ahler

During the trial, one of the prosecution's leading witnesses was Harrod's ex-wife, Anne, who testified before the jury about Harrod's alleged involvement in the murder. However, Anne wasn't able to discuss in court one of the most critical pieces of evidence, which was what her husband told her on the night of the murder. According to Arizona law, communications between spouses are strictly protected, even after they have divorced.

Tovrea Home
Tovrea Home

Nevertheless, Anne was able to provide some compelling evidence to support the prosecution's case. While on the stand, she admitted that she waited until after her divorce before she told police about what she knew out of fear she too would end up behind bars and also fear for her own life. She told jurors that between 1987 and 1991, Harrod received three packages from Hap that allegedly contained large sums of cash or checks, Guinda Reeves reported in the Phoenix New Times. Anne also identified the voice of "Gordon Philips" on Jeanne's answering machine tape as Harrod's. Reeves reported that Anne's two brothers, a sister-in-law and a former business associate of her husband's also recognized the voice on the tape as Harrod's.

Deborah Nolan-Luster took the stand during the first week of November and pointed out to jurors that Harrod was the man who claimed to be Gordon Philips and who she and her mother met while on vacation. She said that he was, "heavier and wearing glasses" but she had no doubt that he was the man she had met nine months before her mother was found murdered. Deborah was challenged by the defense because she had earlier failed to pick Butch Harrod's photo in two photo line-ups. However, she did pick him out of a physical line-up in 1996, as the man she had seen with her mom.

Deborah's testimony was followed by other witnesses, including fingerprint expert Pat Wertheim and former FBI employee Jeff Fauver. Wertheim claimed that the fingerprints at the crime scene matched Harrod's and that it was "very unlikely" that the fingerprints were forged or fabricated," Reeves wrote. Thereafter, Fauver told jurors that he was one of the anonymous tipsters who called investigators about Butch Harrod and was reluctant to identify himself immediately because he wanted to protect Anne Costello and her family. Fauver said that the man's voice on the answering machine was indeed Harrod's and that he had met him several times. Fauver's testimony, as well as that from Wertheim, Deborah and Anne provided compelling evidence to support the prosecution's argument that Harrod was involved in Jeanne's murder. It was then up to the defense to create a reasonable doubt.

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