PORTLAND, Ore. — Defense attorneys called romance novelist Nancy Crampton Brophy to the stand on Monday to provide testimony in the ongoing trial in which she is accused of shooting and killing her husband.
Crampton Brophy is accused of the murder of her husband, chef Daniel Brophy, at the Oregon Culinary Institute in 2018. The prosecution rested its case on April 21 and defense began presenting their case on May 3.
The prosecution claims that Crampton Brophy was motivated by greed and a $1.4 million insurance policy. The Brophys' financial situation, the potential murder weapon and Brophy's whereabouts the morning of the murder were focal points in the prosecution's case.
The defense has called witnesses to testify that the Brophys were a loving couple who cared for each other. They also called witnesses to testify about Brophy's research on firearms for her writing. Other witnesses testified about the Brophys' financial situation.
During Crampton Brophy's testimony on Monday, she spoke glowingly of Daniel Brophy, calling him smart, bright, funny, kind and humble. She said they had a strong relationship and that she misses him.
"It's like you've lost an arm. Like you're just not as good as you were when you're with him," she said. "You were the best you could be when you were together with him. Now it's like, yeah, I function, but there's something missing."
Much of Monday's testimony focused on the Brophys' financial situation. Crampton Brophy described financial struggles from 2014 to 2017 after her husband lost a second income and they faced some unexpected medical expenses. As they worked to catch up on mortgage payments and pay off debt, their plan was to sell their home and buy a smaller property that they could pay off entirely.
Crampton Brophy answered questions at length about the life insurance policies they purchased for both Daniel and herself, which she said were part of their planning for retirement. Prosecutors have argued the life insurance payouts were a motive for the killing. Crampton Brophy said one insurance provider told her to request a letter of exoneration from police in order to speed up the payout process, which she requested from a detective.
She also spoke about researching "ghost guns" or gun kits online. She said her interest was piqued after reading an article about them in 2017, and she planned to incorporate it as a plotline in a future novel. A few months after her first visits to websites selling ghost guns, she purchased a gun kit online, which she said Daniel and some of her other writer friends knew about.
Crampton Brophy said the gun kit was more intricate than she expected and was always meant to be a "toy" to use for research. A few months later, she later purchased a Glock 17 at a gun show in Portland and a slide for the gun online.
Crampton Brophy also answered questions about the morning of Daniel's death, describing a phone call from a friend alerting her to a situation involving police at the Oregon Culinary Institute. After trying to reach Daniel multiple times and not receiving a response, Brophy said, she called her mother-in-law.
"I said, 'I don't even know why I'm calling you.' I wanted someone to worry besides me," she explained.
Crampton Brophy said she drove from Beaverton to Portland and became worried when she saw groups of students standing outside the Oregon Culinary Institute, but not her husband. When a police officer hugged her, she said, that's when she knew he was dead.
She said people came up to her all the time to tell her how much they "loved Chef Brophy."
"He deserved every bit of it," she said.
Defense attorneys asked Crampton Brophy if she killed Daniel Brophy.
"I did not," she said.
Cross-examination will continue on Tuesday.
Judge rules that state's rebuttal witness can testify
On Monday, before Crampton Brophy took the stand, Judge Christopher Ramras ruled that he'll allow a former cellmate of Crampton Brophy's to be called to the stand as a rebuttal witness if her testimony refutes claims made during the defense's presentation of their case.
Prosecutors said they discovered and tracked down Andrea Jacobs on April 26, several days after they rested their case, and in an April 28 interview she allegedly told them that while she and Crampton Brophy were incarcerated together, Crampton Brophy disclosed that she was just a few feet away from Daniel Brophy when he was shot.
During a special hearing about Jacobs on Friday, the defense called a series of witnesses and asked them questions about Jacobs' criminal history and convictions, seeking to paint her as a serial liar and fraudster.
On Monday, Ramras placed limits on what the defense will be allowed to ask Jacobs and any witnesses they call about Jacobs. Concerning her prior convictions, the defense won't be allowed to present evidence or ask questions about specific acts from her previous convictions.
The judge said he may allow a break between the conclusion of the defense's case and the presentation of Jacobs as a rebuttal witness, though he clarified that it would not be "particularly lengthy break."