Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Fatal Attraction Murder Case

The Story Builds

As testimony dragged on, it was becoming clear that the circumstantial web building around Carolyn Warmus was a powerful one. Forensics experts testified that the casings found in the Brooklyn metal shop matched up to the casings found at Betty Jeanne's side on January 15, 1989. When Det. Constantino testified, he outlined the case from beginning to end, much to the dismay of the defense team.

From his arrival at the death scene, through the many months of investigation, countless interviews, repeated disappointments, late nights and early mornings, working on nothing but the Betty Jeanne Solomon murder, probably no one knew the case, in all its excruciating detail better than Det. Constantino. For two days, McCarty guided his witness step by step through the accumulation of evidence and statements. On the third day, David Lewis got his chance to examine the witness. For the next four and a half days, Lewis kept Constantino on the stand. His relentless questioning and attention to detail had the detective squirming at times. "A bear in a three-piece-suit. He was the best," Constantino said recently, "The best attorney who ever interviewed me. Very professional. If I ever got collared for something, that's who I would want to defend me."

The woman with the stolen license, Liisa Kattai, provided more damaging testimony. When she took the stand she told the court that she never bought ammunition at Ray's Sport Shop in New Jersey. She told the court that her license was stolen or lost when she worked at a summer job in Manhattan. During that same time she was friendly with a co-worker named Carolyn Warmus, who, at times, certainly had access to her purse. But Liisa Kattai could not say for sure that her license was stolen, only that it was missing. And whether or not Carolyn had anything to do with its disappearance, she couldn't say.

The prosecution also entered into evidence Carolyn's phone records from the day of the murder, January 15, 1989. This phone bill clearly showed that a five-minute phone call was made to Ray's Sport Shop in New Jersey at 3:02 p.m. that day. That call, along with the purchase of .25-caliber ammunition by a woman using Kattai's stolen license, was strong evidence against Warmus. But Lewis countered this move by providing a phone bill of his own. The defense phone records, which Lewis described as an original MCI phone bill belonging to Warmus, not only lacked the gun shop call, but also showed an additional call at 6:44 p.m. from Warmus' apartment to Michigan. If Carolyn made this 6:44 p.m. call then it would have been almost impossible for her to have driven up to Westchester from her Manhattan apartment and kill Betty Jeanne Solomon at 7:15 p.m.

But the prosecution team strongly suspected that the defense bill was a forgery. McCarty called to the stand technicians from MCI to testify as to the authenticity of the billing statement. They stated that the company's computer tapes definitely showed a telephone call was, in fact, made from Carolyn's phone to the Ray's Sport Shop number on the date and time in question. McCarty also established that the paper the defense telephone bill was printed on was not delivered to MCI until February 13, 1989. The bill was dated January 22, 1989. It was a crushing defeat for David Lewis and his beleaguered client.

Carolyn sulked at the defense table, her face hidden by her hands. She shifted uneasily in her seat and scribbled notes on the pad in front of her. The attorneys continued to argue the issues until Carolyn brought a halt to the proceedings and whispered something to Lewis.

"Your honor," he said, "my client informs me that she hasn't been feeling well today and that she thinks she may be sick tomorrow and have to miss the trial."
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