(NECN: Jack Thurston, St. Johnsbury, Vt.) - With trembling hands and heaving breaths, Patricia Prue spoke publicly Tuesday for the first time since Vt. State Police and Caledonia County prosecutors labeled her one of the most heinous criminals in Vermont. "We're just not getting anywhere," Prue, 34, told Vt. Superior Court Judge Mary Miles Teachout. "After every meeting, I'm left in confusion."
Prue was describing what she claimed is a strained relationship with her appointed defense attorney, Marc Eagle. The Waterford woman is charged in the brutal March 2012 death of Melissa Jenkins. The 33-year-old was a beloved St. Johnsbury Academy science teacher and single mother.
Investigators said the crime was fueled by sexual obsession, and that Prue schemed with her husband, Allen Prue, 31, to lure and snatch Jenkins. The couple allegedly sexually assaulted the teacher, whom Allen Prue knew through his driveway plowing business. The pair allegedly beat and strangled Jenkins, then dumped her body in the Connecticut River. Police said the kidnapping portion of the attack unfolded in front of Jenkins' toddler son.
Patricia Prue pled not guilty last year to an aggravated murder charge. Allen Prue denied a first-degree murder charge. Tuesday, they were back in court, asking Judge Teachout to fire their respective defense attorneys and replace them.
"My lawyer doesn't seem to have a defense for me after all this time," Patricia Prue said. "Us working together is not working and will never work."
"I feel he's using my wife as a source of leverage against me. I don't feel that's very professional," Allen Prue said in a separate hearing, describing his assigned attorney, Dan Maguire. "There's been a lot of things that's happened in this case that I've heard from other inmates; that they've heard it on the news, where I feel I should have heard it from Mr. Maguire."
But Judge Teachout denied their requests, saying criminal suspects don't always have to like their lawyers to get good representation.
Melissa Jenkins' relatives were glad with that ruling, calling it just one tiny step on what's already been a long road to justice. "They're trying to do whatever they can to delay the case," said Eric Berry, the murder victim's cousin. "I don't know if there ever is going to be true closure in this, because there's a little boy that we all care about. And [the Prues] obviously don't. They're just heathens."
There are still a few matters for the court and attorneys to iron out before these cases can go to separate trials. Tuesday, Maguire filed a new motion to have Allen Prue's case heard in another county. Caledonia County State's Attorney Lisa Warren notified the judge that Maguire could possibly end up being called as one of her witnesses because of his involvement with securing a piece of computer evidence. That could create future conflict, Warren warned.
As it stands right now, Patricia Prue is scheduled to go on trial late this summer or early this fall. Allen Prue could stand trial in early 2014.