Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Contract Murder of Kathryn Ann Martini-Lissy

Opening Arguments

"Mr. Lissy is not a monster," said Ronald R. Sticka, the local attorney whom Lissy retained, in his opening arguments at Lissy's Lane County Circuit Court trial. "He's a man who got caught up in circumstances."

Sticka portrayed Lissy as a liar and a braggart who had tried to impress the pimps and prostitutes he regularly employed by making murder plans involving his wife. Sticka called the situation involving his client as one that "sadly backfired."

"Mr. Lissy was playing a sort of game with them [the pimps and prostitutes], getting them wrapped up in something sinister and exciting and sort of morbid."

Sticka told the jury of nine men and three women that Lissy hadn't told the truth or revealed all of the details known to him to the police because he had been afraid and confused, that he didn't know for certain who had actually killed his wife but that he was especially afraid of Wilson. Having engaged in prolonged fantasizing and bragging and role-playing with his less-than-desirable friends, Lissy hadn't known what to do when the murder actually happened because, in his mind, it had all been a game.

"Mr. Lissy was confronted with the fact [of murder] already accomplished...[by] street people...a murder he did not intend," Sticka said, arguing that Lissy had every reason to keep his wife alive because of her career potential. Sticka said that Lissy tried to commit suicide after his wife's murder.

Deputy District Attorney Brian R. Barnes presented a sharply contrasting argument in his opening statements to the jury, describing Lissy as "a particularly degenerate individual who put money at the top of his list."

"The reason for this killing is pure and simple greed," Barnes said.

Barnes stated that tape recordings of conversations between Lissy and the prostitute-turned-police-informant would help prove that Lissy hired David Wilson to kill his wife. Barnes also told the jury that he would present testimony from Lissy's former wife, who would testify that Lissy had told her he planned to kill Kathryn while she was in Boston on business so that he could collect her life insurance and reunite with his former wife.

"He was insistent, very insistent about that he wants to reunite with [his former wife] very badly," Barnes said.

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