Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Murder of Laurie Show

Michelle Blames Butch and Tabitha

Ten months after Judge Dalzell released her, a federal court invalidated his decision and sent Michelle back to prison, noting that her normal appeals process hadn't run its course. In 1998, the case climbed the appeals ladder, reaching Judge Dalzell once again. By then, objections to Dalzell's ruling had reached a peak. National commentators, local residents and prosecutors urged him to recuse himself from the case. He maintained he was impartial, but ultimately he did remove himself, saying that he was convinced of both her innocence and his fairness, but that he didn't want the public's opinion of him to tarnish the legal process. The case went back to Judge Stengel for retrial.

This time, Michelle needed to call her friends' reliability into question. As she told it, after Butch dropped them off, she and Tabitha went into the Show condo to intimidate Laurie. Tabitha, she says, soon had Laurie on the floor and was pummeling her. Michelle, wrongly thinking her rival was also pregnant, tried to stop Tabitha to protect the unborn child. Tabitha responded by hitting Michelle with such force that she fell back against the wall; then Tabitha hit Laurie so hard that her neck snapped. Then Tabitha began sawing Laurie's throat with the knife. Laurie continued struggling, and Tabitha stabbed her in the back. Defending herself, Laurie fended off the blade with her hands, while begging a frightened Michele not to leave her. Michelle tried to pull the critically wounded girl out the door, but lost the tug-of-war to Tabitha. Dropping the beaten girl's hand, Michelle fled — and passed Butch on the stairs who commanded her to stay put. When he and Tabitha came back down, Michelle was still there, so the three piled into his car, and went back to Butch's trailer to clean themselves up and dispose of the evidence.

According to Michelle's retrial testimony, Laurie died only after Butch choked her and Tabitha stabbed her in the leg. Butch, she says, begged her to cover for him; out of love or fear, she obeyed. In this version of Michelle's story, she was not there for the death blows. Pennsylvania state law determines guilt by one's presence at a murder, and does not limit guilt to the person who pulls the trigger or brandishes the knife.

 

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