PORTLAND, Ore. — The ongoing trial of romance novelist Nancy Crampton Brophy went on pause on Friday while prosecutors and Crampton Brophy’s defense team presented arguments about whether to allow the state to bring in a former cellmate of Crampton Brophy’s as a rebuttal witness, although Judge Christopher Ramras ultimately said he would wait until Monday to announce his decision.
Crampton Brophy is accused of shooting and killing her husband, chef Daniel Brophy, at the Oregon Culinary Institute in 2018. The prosecution has claimed that Crampton Brophy stood to gain a significant amount of life insurance money from her husband’s death.
The prosecution rested its case on April 21, and the defense began to make their case on May 3 after the trial resumed following a hiatus due to a COVID case. That same day, prosecutors raised the possibility of bringing in the former cellmate, Andrea Jacobs, as a rebuttal witness.
Prosecutors said they had discovered and tracked down Jacobs several days earlier, and in an interview she allegedly told them that while she and Crampton Brophy were incarcerated together, Crampton Brophy had disclosed that she had been just a few feet away from Daniel Brophy when the shooting happened.
Friday’s courtroom proceedings were part of a hearing to determine whether Jacobs would be permitted to testify.
The parties spent the first hour discussing a request from Crampton Brophy’s attorneys to get access to all the materials relating to the legal cases that led to Jacobs’ incarceration. Judge Ramras ultimately granted a motion from prosecutors to quash the request on the grounds that it would violate Jacobs’ attorney-client privilege.
During the rest of the morning and early afternoon proceedings, Crampton Brophy’s attorneys questioned a series of witnesses about the criminal history and convictions of Jacobs, seeking to paint her as a serial liar and fraudster.
Jacobs landed in prison because of two criminal prosecutions that were ultimately combined into a single sentence. She was first charged with committing embezzlement, tax fraud and identify theft while working as a bookkeeper in a medical office and then, while on pre-trial release, took a job at a dentist’s office where she began stealing the office’s reimbursement checks from insurance companies, depositing them into her own bank account.
The defense questioned several witnesses including the dentist who owned the office where Jacobs worked and one of the prosecutors who worked on her case, both of whom described her as a serial liar who was extremely good at deceiving people.
The defense also sought to establish whether Jacobs was being offered any sort of deal or reprieve in her own case in exchange for cooperating and providing testimony on the Brophy matter.
Later in the afternoon, each side laid out their arguments about whether to exclude Jacobs. The defense argued that because Jacobs had been brought into the Brophy proceedings so recently, they would not have time to do the necessary research to effectively cross-examine her without creating a months-long delay in the trail, and would thus be unable to provide fair legal representation for Crampton Brophy.
Among other things, the defense attorneys argued that they would need to track down all of Jacobs’ prison phone records to determine how much she knew about what had been going on in the Brophy trail, and they wouldn’t have time to do that.
Prosecutors countered that Jacobs would be no different from any other rebuttal witness and that her criminal history should not be grounds to exclude her. They argued that the defense was trying to make the situation seem more complicated and dramatic than it actually was, in the hopes that the judge would exclude the witness just to keep the trial moving at a reasonable pace.
Ramras adjourned the day’s proceedings shortly before 5 p.m., and said he would need to wait until Monday to issue his verdict on the core question of whether to allow Jacobs to testify.
Watch the day's full proceedings: