Piper Rountree's Revenge
On January 28, 2005, Rountree underwent a pretrial hearing at the Henrico County Circuit Court. Murray Janus represented her case before Judge L.A. Harris, Jr. The lead prosecutors in the case included Chief Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Duncan P. Reid and Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Owen I. Ashman.
During the hearing, the prosecution presented a steady stream of witnesses who provided evidence against Rountree, mostly placing her in Virginia at the time of the murder. Some of the witnesses included Mollie, Benestante, O'Keefe, Waterford and the Henrico hotel manager where Rountree checked in on October 28th. The judge found the evidence sufficient enough for the case to go to trial, which began several weeks later.
February 22nd marked the opening of Rountree's trial beginning with jury selection. Eventually, a seven-man, seven-woman jury was selected followed by opening statements from the prosecution then the defense teams. Witness testimony began the next day and lasted until February 26th.
One of the many witnesses to take the stand was Jerry Walters, Rountree's ex-boyfriend who she dated for ten months up until February 2004 and who had previously opened a line a credit for her. He claimed that while Rountree was in jail she sent him a letter suggesting that they marry in order to "spare" him testifying against her, since "by law a husband could not testify against a wife and vice versa."
Walters told the court that Rountree called him the evening of Jablin's murder and informed him of his death. She then asked him to fly from Louisiana where he lived to Houston, although he declined the offer, Akin said. Walters said that the next day he learned that the line of credit he set up for Rountree was in default because, according to Rountree, the debit card had been stolen the week before, it was further reported. He only later learned from investigators that many of the items linking Rountree to the murder were purchased from the bank account he set up for her. Walters closed the account soon thereafter.
Another witness who testified was Crystalee Danko, a Sprint telephone employee who produced cell phone records placing Rountree in the area of Norfolk and Richmond, Virginia between October 28th and 30th. She also provided records that proved Rountree was also in Virginia earlier that same month. The evidence directly contradicted Rountree's account that she was in Houston at the time of Jablin's murder.
Three days into the trial, other testimony was heard including that of the Henrico hotel manager and the manager of the boutique where Rountree bought the wigs she allegedly wore on route to and from Virginia during the last week of October 2004. Investigators were able to provide video surveillance tapes showing Rountree at Henrico County ATM money machines around the time of the murder wearing one of the blonde wigs she purchased from the boutique over the internet.
Perhaps one of the most damaging pieces of evidence was that presented by Mac McClennahan, who dated Tina Rountree at the time of the murder. He claimed that on the evening of October 26, 2004, he and Piper Rountree went to a Houston shooting range and practiced firing rented guns.. He also testified that he gave her a .38-caliber revolver in 2002, which he "found inside Tina Rountree's house," Akin stated. Following Jablin's death, McClennahan said that Rountree tried to convince him not to tell investigators about the practice shooting at the fire range because, "it'll just complicate things."