PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Brophys’ financial situation might not have been as dire as the prosecution witness suggested, according to a financial expert who testified for the defense at the murder trial. of Nancy Crampton Brophy on Tuesday.
Nancy is charged with the murder of her husband, Daniel Brophy, at the Oregon Culinary Institute on June 2, 2018. The prosecution argued that part of her motive in the murder was to claim funds she would receive from the husband’s life insurance and escape the financial ruin and potential foreclosure that threatened his future.
However, the witness who spoke on Tuesday said that at the time of Daniel’s death, the Brophys’ financial situation was improving.
The defense opened its case on Tuesday and called the following witnesses:
- James Denny – Worked as a landscaper for the Brophys from December 2017 to August 2018
- Nicole Barlow – Volunteers for the trauma intervention program
- Tamara Alva – Helped her uncle, James Denny, with the landscaping of the Brophys
- Tiffany Couch – Chartered Accountant and Owner of Acuity Forensics
Here are six takeaways from day 13 of the trial:
A potential rebuttal witness who could impact the case
When the court was called to order on Tuesday, the prosecution and defense discussed several topics with Judge Christopher Ramras, one was the defense’s concern about a rebuttal witness the prosecution might call . The prosecution is allowed to call witnesses for a rebuttal after the defense completes its case.
Prosecutors say they only heard from this witness last week. Andrea Jacobs would have been in prison at the same time as Nancy Brophy. Detectives from the Portland Police Department traveled to a Texas jail last week to question him.
Jacobs told detectives that while they were in jail, Nancy told him she was “so far away when the shooting happened” and raised her arms to indicate distance. According to what detectives told prosecutors, Jacobs said she told her attorney at the time what Nancy said.
Prosecutors requested the lawyer’s notes.
It is not yet confirmed whether Jacobs will be called to testify, but if so, the defense told the judge they would contest that. They said they would need weeks to research and prepare. The defense also said Jacobs is being investigated in an Oregon Medicaid fraud case and may try to influence his outcome in that investigation by testifying.
The Brophys paid over $20,000 for landscaping work
The first witness defense attorney called was James Denny, a man who had performed landscaping services for the Brophys before and after Daniel’s murder.
Denny said he mainly interacted with Nancy and she always insisted that she wanted the job to make Daniel happy and that Denny should check with Daniel before he did anything.
The Brophys have hired Denny to clean up their garden. Denny said he could tell the space was once a beautiful garden, but had been overrun by blackberries. It was the worst case of blackberries he had ever encountered in his career. He said his goal was to clean up the yard so Nancy could sell the house.
After working from December 2017 to August 2018, Denny’s labor bill was over $20,000.
Nancy was in shock
Nicole Barlow said she heard Nancy before she saw Nancy at the crime scene where Daniel was killed.
“When she arrived at the scene, I heard her crying and screaming loudly,” Barlow said.
Barlow volunteers for the Trauma Intervention Program, known as TIP. It’s a non-profit agency that Portland first responders call in the event of a sudden death. TIP volunteers provide practical care and emotional first aid to those at the scene.
On the day Daniel died, Barlow said she gave Nancy a resource guide to help her take the next steps after her death.
Notes Barlow took on the day Daniel was killed say she could tell Nancy was in shock at the news she had just heard from detectives.
A landscaping worker put a lien on the Brophy’s house
Tamara Alva helped her uncle, James Denny, with the landscaping of the Brophys’ home from late 2017 to 2018. Over the months she worked at the home, Alva said she and Nancy developed a friendship narrow.
After Daniel’s death, Alva continued to work and help Nancy with other projects like cleaning the basement and garage. Alva didn’t recall Nancy or Daniel talking specifically about selling their house, but said downsizing seemed like a logical thing they would do at their age.
Despite the friendship Alva developed with Nancy and the fact that Nancy paid her on time, she still put a $7,000 lien on the Brophys’ house when Nancy went to jail.
“When she went to jail, it was hard to know which way things were going to go,” Alva said.
The Brophys had eight bank accounts
The defense called Tiffany Couch, a chartered accountant and owner of Acuity Forensics, to the stand. Couch is certified in Financial Forensics and is a Certified Fraud Examiner.
The defense asked Couch to review the Brophys’ finances and compare what she found to what police investigating accountant Robert Azorr found. Azorr has previously testified as a prosecution witness.
Couch felt Azorr was too narrow in scope when reviewing the Brophys’ finances. She said he mainly focused on just two accounts they had, but in total they had eight different bank accounts at the time of Daniel’s death.
Reviewing all of those accounts, Couch said the Brophys weren’t in financial trouble like Azorr said. Instead, she said they paid off their debt by 72% between 2016 and Daniel’s death in 2018.
“I have seen a marked improvement in the financial situation”
Not only were the Brophys reducing their debt, but Couch said their annual income was also increasing. From May 2016 to December 2016, the Brophys had an income of $48,710. For the year 2017, their total income was $105,923 and in the first five months of 2018 it was $49,959.
If an average monthly income is determined for each of those years, Couch said the average has increased each year.
She said the Brophys didn’t seem to be short on cash. They were paying off their credit cards, paying off the mortgage – in fact, accelerating the payments on their second mortgage – paying off the loan they took out on Daniel’s 401k and contributing to the 401k and at a higher rate than before contract the loan in 2017.
Couch didn’t say anything about the Brophys’ spending habits that surprised her, including their monthly life insurance payments and the average $475 they spent each month on dining out.