Local News

Petrick's Fiancee, Former Girlfriend Testify In Day 6 Testimony

Posted November 16, 2005
Updated December 10, 2006

— An Atlanta woman who claims she was engaged to accused killer Robert Petrick testified Tuesday that at one point in their relationship she worried he might hurt her.

"There was one instance in the midst of having sex, you took a hold of my hair," Ann Johnston told Petrick, who is representing himself against accusations that he killed his wife, Janine Sutphen. "You had your eyes opened. I looked right at you and you had the most evil look I've ever seen on any human being's face."

Johnston testified she had known Petrick since high school and had started dating him after the two met again in late 2001. In early 2002, while he was still married to Sutphen, Johnston testified that Petrick asked her to marry him.

When Assistant District Attorney Mitch Garrell questioned her, Johnston said Petrick never mentioned he had a wife.

"(Petrick) said they'd been friends, had a relationship, but it didn't work out," Johnston said.

Another woman, Celeste Coleman, also testified that just a few days before Petrick reported his wife missing in January 2003, that he approached her at a Durham bar.

"He indicated (his wife) had died," Coleman said. "He seemed upset about it and I asked what she died of, and he said cancer."

In addition to marital problems, the prosecution points to money as another motive for Sutphen's death. It claims that Petrick drained Sutphen's bank account and when she realized it, he then killed her.

Another woman, who lived with Petrick four years in the mid-1990s before he met Sutphen, also testified that the defendant left her penniless. Allison Dumore, of Greensboro, told jurors that Petrick emptied her bank account and bought hundreds of dollars of computer equipment with a credit card he got in her son's name.

Authorities said Petrick reported Sutphen, a cellist for the Durham Symphony, missing Jan. 22, 2003 after she failed to show up for a rehearsal. Police later found her car, along with her keys and cello, inside a downtown Durham parking garage across the street from where rehearsal had been held.

Four months later in May, two fishermen discovered Sutphen's body, which had been wrapped in a tarp and tied in duct tape, floating in Raleigh's Falls Lake. The medical examiner concluded she had been suffocated and wrapped in sleeping bags with her legs chained.

Jurors have heard evidence from the prosecution over the last five days of testimony that support their claim that Petrick killed Sutphen, including testimony from Sutphen's sons who said they suspected all along that their stepfather was involved in their mother's death.

Last week, a cadaver dog handler told jurors during a search of the couple's home, a dog detected smells of human remains in the bedroom and the trunk of Petrick's car. And on Monday, a forensic investigator testified about evidence he found on the computer that prosecutors argued mapped out Petrick's plan to kill his wife.

The prosecution is expected to rest its case Wednesday.

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