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Archive for Friday, February 14, 2014

Police: Defendant said drinking, chair throwing preceded Christmas Day stabbing death

February 14, 2014, 12:58 p.m. Updated February 14, 2014, 5:21 p.m.

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A Lawrence woman accused of stabbing her boyfriend to death on Christmas morning told police investigating the case that he had been drinking all night and threw a chair at her before she stabbed him twice, according to court testimony Friday.

Marci D. Cully made a cellphone video of Wayne Francisco as they fought in the moments before the stabbing. That video was among the nearly three hours of testimony heard by District Judge Peggy Kittel, who found that prosecutors had enough evidence to proceed with second-degree murder charges against Cully.

Lawrence police officers and detectives testified that Cully said she stabbed Francisco twice during a fight around 3:30 Christmas morning.

According to Friday’s testimony, Cully told investigators that Francisco had been drinking throughout the night — the coroner testified that he had a blood-alcohol level of .341 — and that the two called each other names before the dispute became physical. Cully told them that she stabbed Francisco after he threw a chair at her and attempted to swing it at her again.

Lawrence police officer Dean Kemppainen testified that he was first on the scene at Francisco’s apartment at 4300 West 24th Place and was invited inside by Cully, whom he said was applying pressure on Francisco’s wounds with a towel. “He was not moving and he was actually changing color at that point,” Kemppainen said.

Cully appeared in Douglas County District Court on Friday for a preliminary hearing. She has been in jail since her Christmas morning arrest. In court Cully was quiet, often sniffling or wiping away tears. Friends and family filled the courtroom.

Cully recorded the cellphone video as she lay on a couch in Francisco’s apartment in the moments before the stabbing.

In the video, Francisco is speaking unintelligibly at first while making signs with his hands. Their conversation becomes hostile, each calling each other names, and Cully yells at Francisco to go to bed and sober up. Several minutes pass before Francisco insults Cully’s family, gets up and walks over to Cully. The video blurs with motion after a crash. A wooden chair briefly comes into view as Cully walks into a dark kitchen. There, the rattling of silverware is audible before Francisco reappears, stepping back as the video ends.

Lawrence detective Mike McAtee testified that Cully told him Francisco threw a chair at her before she grabbed a knife. She said she first stabbed Francisco near his collarbone, McAtee said, when he went to pick the chair up again. She said he then picked up the chair, drawing it back as if to swing, before she stabbed him a second time. While watching the video on Friday, Cully began to sob.

According to Erik Mitchell, Douglas County coroner, Francisco died from internal bleeding resulting from a stab wound near his collarbone. Mitchell testified that the first thrust of the knife passed through Francisco’s lung and stopped just before his heart. The eight-inch blade was plunged down to the handle, he said.

Cully told investigators that she had not been drinking and had taken an over-the-counter sleeping medication.

Cully is still in custody and will return to court for arraignment on March 28.