Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Contract Murder of Kathryn Ann Martini-Lissy

Closing Arguments

During his closing arguments to the jury, Prosecutor Barnes replayed portions of the tape recordings that the police had made of the conversations between Lissy and the prostitute informant, which included statements that Lissy had made regarding the $25,000 he would pay David Wilson for "taking the fall" for Kathy's murder.

"The utter callousness of the defendant is illustrated on those tapes when [the prostitute] asks him, 'Are you sorry?' and the defendant responds, 'No, are you?'" Barnes recounted. The mere fact that Kathy had asked Wilson at the hotel, "Why is Michael setting me up?" demonstrated that Lissy had arranged for Wilson to come to her room, Barnes said. "It shows that she was aware of the situation set up by Michael Lissy which put her in a compromising position," he said, although the victim hadn't known that she was about to be killed.

"The defendant told us he's a liarhe said he might even lie to beat a murder case," Barnes continued. "It's the biggest fraud of them alla one-hundred ninety-thousand dollar insurance fraud case. If the defendant was really grief-stricken, so emotional about the death of his wife, was his reaction what you'd expect? Absolutely not," Barnes said.

The case was handed to the jury.

On Thursday, February 8, 1985, after deliberating for 5 and one-half hours, the nine-man, three-woman jury unanimously found Michael David Lissy guilty of aggravated murder in the July 5th death of his wife. Lissy waived his right to a presentence investigation, and Lane County Circuit Judge William A. Beckett sentenced Lissy immediately to life in prison and imposed a 30-year mandatory minimum sentence before being eligible for parole. Lissy was taken to the Oregon State Penitentiary, where he began serving the sentence. According to his attorney, his case would be appealed.

Lissy would eventually be moved to an out-of-state prison facility as part of a prisoner exchange program that was created primarily for inmates who were either themselves considered security risks or whose lives were considered to be at risk.

"We hoped he'd get the maximum [sentence], and he did," said one of the victim's relatives. "We wished he could have gotten the death penalty. With all the wonderful people in Oregon, it's too bad that Kathy had to meet the worst."

On Friday, February 9, 1985, the day after Lissy's conviction and sentencing, David Wilson and the female driver who admitted driving him to Eugene to kill Kathy pleaded guilty, which included Wilson pleading guilty to aggravated murder in connection with Kathy's death. He was sentenced by Lane County Circuit Court Judge George J. Woodrich to life in prison. Woodrich imposed a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years. Wilson was paroled a few years ago after serving most of the 20 years.

As part of her stipulated plea, the woman who drove Wilson to Eugene to commit the crime pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder and to first-degree robbery before Lane County Circuit Court Judge Edwin Allen. She received a 5-year sentence but was paroled for good behavior after serving only about half of the sentence.

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