Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Love Triangle Murder of Lt. Commander Fred Trayers

Trial & Verdict

Jennifer Trayers at trial.
Jennifer Trayers at trial.
The murder trial of Jennifer Trayers began on January 23, 2012 in downtown San Diego. Prosecutor Fiona Khalil methodically laid out the evidence -- citing Trayers' final e-mail to Robins which stated "I was the last person he was with" as proof that the killing was premeditated. Unsurprisingly, defense attorney Kerry Armstrong claimed his client had been put through an "emotional roller coaster" by her philandering husband, and that the killing was a spontaneous response born of Jennifer's sleeplessness and anxiety. He argued his client was guilty of voluntary manslaughter, not murder.

The two-week trial featured Danielle Robins calmly describing the e-mails sent during her relationship with the deceased (and denying she and Dr. Fred Trayers ever had sexual intercourse). But the main event came during the defense case when Jennifer Trayers took the stand in her own defense. Over two days of testimony, she often lost control of her emotions while discussing her doomed relationship with her husband.

On February 8, 2012, after roughly three days of deliberations, the jury returned a verdict. They found Jennifer Trayers guilty of second-degree murder for the killing of Dr. Fred Trayers -- a middle ground between the first-degree charge urged by the prosecution and the voluntary manslaughter finding championed by defense attorneys. Jennifer Trayers betrayed no emotion as the verdict was read. Afterward, her attorney Kerry Armstrong told reporters, "She feels absolutely horrible about what happened to her husband...she still loves him."

Jennifer Trayers was called back to that San Diego courtroom on March 9, 2012 for sentencing by Judge Joan Weber. Before passing down her decision, Judge Weber spoke about "the irrevocable tragedy of domestic violence," telling Trayers that violence was no way to settle marital troubles: "You lost the man you loved more than life itself," Weber told Trayers before sentencing the placid defendant to spend no less than sixteen years and as much as life in prison for the killing of her husband.

Although Jennifer made no statement at sentencing, several of Fred's family members wrote letters to the court. Fred's mother Carol Trayers wrote of the anguish of losing her son and the daughter-in-law who she had loved for almost 20 years: "How can I just turn off the feelings that I've had all these years," her letter read, "I will grieve for both of them all of my life."

Lieutenant Commander Frederick Trayers III
Lieutenant Commander Frederick Trayers III

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