A Vermont jury is deliberating the case of a Waterford man accused of killing a popular St. Johnsbury Academy science teacher in March of 2012. Allen Prue is accused of beating and strangling Melissa Jenkins to death. The plot, prosecutors alleged, was carried out along with Prue's wife, Patricia.
"Allen Prue is not some timid sideliner," Caledonia County State's Attorney Lisa Warren told the jury in her closing argument, making the case that Allen Prue was a willing participant in the scheme.
Warren said Prue and his wife had developed an obsession and sexual fascination with Jenkins, killing the mother of a toddler the night the couple wanted to "get a girl" for three-way sex. "She fought like hell," Warren said, describing Jenkins the night of the killing.
Warren said the Prues lured Jenkins from her house with a bogus story of a broken-down car. After Jenkins arrived to the Prues' car, the couple launched an attack with a stun gun, punches, and strangulation, witnesses for the prosecution said over nine days of evidence for the state. They then hid evidence by pouring bleach over Jenkins' body and dumping the body in the Connecticut River.
In her closing argument, Warren also reminded jurors of a taped confession Prue gave to Vermont State Police shortly after the crime. In it, Prue sounds tearful as he apologizes to Jenkins, saying, "I'm terribly sorry, Melissa."
Defense attorney Bob Katims focused much of his closing statement on the police recordings, which Katims said demonstrated how savvy detectives outwitted and coerced his client. "Police interview techniques... can lead to false statements," Katims told the jury.
Katims also called into question evidence presented by the state, suggesting testimony didn't clearly show who killed Jenkins, or why. Katims has maintained that Prue's wife, Patricia, was the real mastermind and killer, because she was fiercely jealous of Jenkins.
"Allen Prue didn't plan to kill her," Katims told the jury.
The jury got the case at 3:00 p.m. Tuesday. Six men and six women are in on the deliberations. They asked Judge Robert Bent for clarification on charges and to have access to a computer to play back audio recordings of Allen Prue's conversation with police.
Patricia Prue's trial is scheduled for next month.