Would Donna’s defence fall apart because of an old cobweb?
Donna Blanton insisted she was innocent. It hadn’t been her finger on the trigger that morning in 2003 when her husband, Taylor Blanton, was shot dead in his bed.
But, she’d been found guilty in 2005 of his murder. Sentenced to life in prison.
She still protested her innocence, and then the court of appeals had decided that during the trial, the prosecutors improperly rejected five female potential jurors because of their gender.
It meant that Donna Blanton was on trial again. A new judge and jury assembled to hear the details of that fateful morning.
Five years before, at 6am on 16 October 2003, Donna had been in the bathroom of the home she shared with her police officer husband Taylor, her two young daughters from a previous marriage, and his daughter, also from a previous marriage.
That morning, as Donna brushed her teeth, Taylor dozed in bed. Suddenly, gunshots rang out. Donna ran out of the bathroom to see an intruder fleeing the bedroom. He’d dropped his gun.
Donna picked up the weapon, charged out of the house after him and fired twice. But he’d escaped.
Donna made her way back inside – to find Taylor had been shot four times in the back while he’d been sleeping. Her husband was dead.
Police found the shells from the gun. It had been fired four times in the bedroom, and twice on the drive.
As Taylor worked as a police officer, it was possible that the intruder had had a grievance against him.
But the court now listened again to the evidence against Donna. Evidence that had seen her handed a life sentence three years before.
When the police had arrived at the property, it had still been early morning. Yet there were no tracks in the dew-soaked grass.
How had the intruder approached and got away? And there were no signs of a break-in. The only way in would have been through the kitchen window, which was open.
Crucially, the first officer on the scene had examined it. He’d found the 4in opening was covered by an unbroken cobweb.
Clearly it hadn’t been disturbed by an intruder. And, the gun used to kill Taylor was his own. How would an intruder know where he kept his weapon?
Lawyers presented their case to the court…
A gambler, Donna was massively in debt. She hid bank statements and credit-card bills. Police found 250 to 300 letters, some threatening bankruptcy, legal demands… So Donna was a gambler, and secretly up to her ears in debt.
But what loving wife would kill her husband to clear a debt – or to keep a secret? And Donna had never received a penny from Taylor’s estate.
For a second time, Donna Blanton had to wait while the jury considered their verdict…