A prosecutor this afternoon argued that it was impossible that someone other than Todd Mullis killed his wife, saying that such a person would have had to have known she was alone in another building and then impaled her with a corn rake without being noticed by him or his son.
“How would this person know that Amy was going to the shed?” asked Iowa Assistant Attorney General Maureen Hughes. “Is there somebody waiting there, hoping that there is a murder weapon there?"
Hughes said Amy Mullis had been scared of her husband, expressing concerns about her safety to friends and family.
Hughes also argued that internet searches completed on Todd Mullis' iPad show that he had considered the killing for some time, saying it was highly unlikely that anyone else would have used the device to search for phrases regarding murder and infidelity.
Hughes said Mullis planned his wife’s killing, then waited for her to undergo a medical procedure as a way of providing an excuse for why she would fall on a corn rake.
She also highlighted the testimony of Trysten Mullis, the 14-year-old son of the couple, who was working with his father in a barn when the killing occurred.
During a deposition, Trysten had said his father was out of his sight for one minute, 40 seconds, but testifying Tuesday, the teen said that time estimate was inaccurate, though he did not provide a new time estimate.
“He will not commit to a time because he does not know how long he was separated,” Hughes said in her closing argument.
In his closing argument, defense attorney Gerald “Jake” Feuerhelm said Trysten Mullis’ testimony showed there was little time for Todd Mullis to sneak out of the hog barn, head to the shed and kill his wife.
Feuerhelm also questioned the validity of statements that Amy Mullis made to her friends about how she feared Todd Mullis, instead characterizing them as her trying to slander her husband as a justification for her engaging in another affair.
“Amy is justifying her actions,” Feuerhelm said. “She is making Todd the bad guy.”
Feuerhelm insisted that someone else killed Amy Mullis, saying that the shed door had been frozen open the night before and that someone might have snuck in. The following day, Amy Mullis possibly scared that person in the shed, which prompted that person to kill her.
The defense also attacked the claim that Todd Mullis whispered “cheating whore” while on the phone with 911 operators. Feuerhelm said he actually said, “She’s cold,” but he could not be understood because he was panicked.
“You’re going to do that on a 911 call,” Feuerhelm said. “That is a Hail Mary by the state here, folks.”
Feuerhelm argued that the death investigation was too narrow and focused on proving Todd Mullis' guilt rather than exploring other options.
He noted that investigators did not test Amy Mullis' fingernail clippings, which could have pointed them toward another suspect.
Closing arguments wrapped up at about 2 p.m. today, at which point the jurors were dismissed to begin their deliberations.
Prosecutors this morning cross-examined an Earlville, man accused of killing his wife, asking him about the day of the woman's death and a series of internet searches that performed on his iPad.
The questioning came on the fourth day of testimony in the first-degree murder trial of Todd M. Mullis, 43, at the Dubuque County Courthouse.
Iowa Assistant Attorney General Maureen Hughes questioned Mullis when he took the stand this morning.
She probed for details about Nov. 10 — the day of Amy Mullis' death.
Todd Mullis said his wife chose to go outside and assist with chores on their farm that day, despite recovering from a recent surgery.
He recalled that there were several times when Amy Mullis appeared to be dizzy, which he attributed to the recent procedure.
“I was concerned,” Mullis said. “I don’t know if I was extremely concerned. I just asked if she was OK.”
Mullis said Amy Mullis insisted on staying out to help.
Later, it was determined that a pet carrier needed to retrieved from the shed. When asked whose idea it was to have Amy retrieve the pet carrier, Mullis said it was a joint decision between him and his son, Trysten.
“It was both of us really,” Mullis said.
Amy later was found unresponsive in that shed, impaled by a corn rake.
Hughes asked Mullis what he and his son were doing during that time period. Mullis said they were working a hog barn about 150 feet away.
Asked if he heard any kind of struggle or Amy screaming, he said he had not.
He also said he didn't hear any vehicles pull up or footsteps outside.
“I heard what we were doing,” Mullis said.
Mullis later was asked if he could think of anyone that would have wanted to kill his wife. Mullis said he could not.
Mullis also was questioned about internet searches that were done on his iPad.
He said he was not the person who searched for the phrases “characteristics of cheating woman,” (sic) “did ancient cultures kill adulterers,” and “killing unfaithful women."
However, he said he was responsible for searching for the phrases “thrill of the kill” and “once you want man, you will always feel the thirst."
When later asked by defense lawyer Gerald “Jake” Feuerhelm about those searches, Mullis said he heard a quote in a movie that he watched with his wife, and he was trying to find its origin.
“It ended up being Ernest Hemingway,” Mullis said. “We were trying to figure it out.”
Toward the end of questioning by the prosecution, Maureen Hughes played the audio from the 911 call that Mullis made while driving Amy Mullis to the hospital. En route, Mullis was told to stop and start performing CPR while waiting for emergency responders.
Hughes played a short section of the call when Mullis was performing CPR.
After hearing distorted whispering toward the end of the clip, Hughes paused the audio and asked Mullis, “Did you whisper ‘cheating whore’ right there?”
“No,” Mullis said, not displaying any change in emotion.
Hughes then continued the clip until another portion of what sounded like distorted whispering could be heard, paused the audio and asked, “Right there, did you say ‘go to hell, cheating whore?’”
“No,” Mullis said.
As of 11 a.m., the questioning of Mullis had concluded and the defense rested. Closing arguments were to follow.