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Castor trial comes into our homes

District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick presented a carefully structured and convincing case, calling 44 witnesses, playing wiretapped phone conversations and unveiling the apparent suicide note which Stacey claims Ashley wrote to confess to killing the two men. The DA unraveled the complex chain of events that connected all three incidents and pointed his finger directly at Stacey even as she pointed her finger at Ashley.

Fitzpatrick's first witness was none other than Ashley Wallace, now 21.

A Liverpool High School student at the time of her stepfather's death, Ashley in her testimony came off as a rather clueless young lady but one with an encyclopedic knowledge of popularly abused prescription drugs.

Pills and booze

On Sept. 14, 2007, Ashley was rushed to the hospital after spending 17 hours in her bedroom. Doctors found that she had overdosed on vodka and a variety of pills, including Ambien, codeine and hydrocodone. Fitzpatrick maintained that Stacey administered the potentially deadly combination of drugs and booze.

When Stacey took the stand last week, the DA asked her if it was "normal" for Ashley to remain in bed for 17 consecutive hours. "For Ashley to be in her bedroom for 17 hours was normal. Sure, it was," Castor said. Fitzpatrick threw her own words back at her. "Sure, it was!" he yelled derisively. "And was it normal that she was drooling?"

Stacey had made the drooling comment, she said, as a jocular "figure of speech."

While Fitz browbeat the defendant, suggesting that she depicted Ashley as a "psychotic monster" capable of killing her mother's two husbands, Stacey somehow maintained her composure.

Why did Stacey testify? Most murder defendants don't. She and her lawyer, Chuck Keller, may have figured it was her only chance to connect with the jurors. It should be noted, however, that Chuck Keller is no Paul Shanahan.

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