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Stacey Castor said 'no' while nodding 'yes'

Commentary Feb. 6:

Have you seen the new Fox TV show "Lie to Me"? It stars Tim Roth as Dr. Cal Lightman, an investigator who studies facial expressions and involuntary body language to detect if someone is lying. As the world's leading deception expert, Lightman determines not only if someone is lying, but why.

In the case of 41-year-old Stacey Castor, why is an easy question to answer. An Onondaga County Court jury of two men and 10 women pronounced her guilty on Thursday Feb. 5.

She now stands guilty of second-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing. Castor fessed up to that last charge, admitting on the stand that she inveigled two friends to fraudulently witness her husband's signature on a back-dated will a few weeks after his death.

Jurors found that Stacey Castor had both the opportunity and motive to poison at least one (and probably two) husbands with antifreeze. She wanted their money. She wanted them out of her life.

When she also dosed her daughter two years after David died, it was to pin the murder rap(s) on someone other than herself.

So we know why Stacey Castor might have lied on the witness stand, but to determine if she was in fact lying under oath, let's take a close look at her most crucial testimony and see how fictional Dr. Cal Lightman and the real-life local jurors might've analyzed Castor's body language.

Body language

"Did you kill David Castor by poisoning him with antifreeze?" her attorney, Chuck Keller, asked her during direct examination on Thursday Jan. 29, in Onondaga County Court.

"No, I did not," Castor answered, her head bobbing up and down.

"Did you try to murder your daughter by poisoning her with alcohol and pills and trying to frame her for the murders of David Castor and Michael Wallace?" Keller asked.

"Absolutely not," Castor answered emphatically, again with three noticeable nods.

A nod, of course, means "yes."

While her words denied the crimes, her body language unconsciously assented.

Castor will be sentenced on March 5 by Judge Joe Fahey.

Meanwhile, authorities in Cayuga County are considering filing charges in the death of Castor's first husband, Michael Wallace, who died in 2000 at their home in Weedsport. His body was exhumed in September 2007, shortly before Ashley Wallace overdosed, and examination of his corpse indicated that he had died after ingesting antifreeze.

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