Prosecution suspends case after defense cross-examines financial expert

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Prosecutors in the Nancy Brophy murder trial closed their case Thursday morning, after nearly three weeks of testimony.

Award-winning novelist, Nancy Crampton Brophy is charged with killing her chef husband Daniel Brophy at the Culinary Institute of Oregon on June 2, 2018. Nancy was arrested for Daniel’s murder in September 2018 and her trial began on June 4 april.

The prosecution argued that the Brophys’ financial difficulties and the imminent threat of financial ruin that followed could have been a motivating factor in Daniel’s murder.

The twelfth day of the trial began with the continued cross-examination of Robert Azorr, an investigative accountant with the Portland Police Bureau who was asked to examine the Brophys’ finances from June 2016 to September 2018.

Azorr, who began his testimony on Wednesday, told the court he believed the couple were in financial difficulty based on the bank accounts and financial statements he was asked to review.

During his cross-examination, defense attorney Kristen Winemiller asked Azorr to differentiate between what he calls discretionary spending — or spending the couple could have lived without — and non-discretionary spending which they needed to survive.

Winemiller’s request for clarification comes after Azorr told the court Wednesday that he believed the Brophys could have avoided their financial situation by cutting expenses.

During its analysis of financial documents, Azorr found that the Brophys continued to dine out, buy daily Starbucks drinks and take expensive vacations even after the couple took out a $35,000 loan on the account. Daniel Brophy’s 401k retirement plan to pay off four months of arrears. mortgage, which he says could have been covered by a smaller loan of $10,000.

The defense asked Azorr whether some of the financial categories he previously described, such as travel, insurance and retirement expenses, could reasonably be considered to overlap as essential and non-essential expenses.

Citing previous testimony of a work trip that Mr Brophy allegedly took to teach classes at Tillamook, Winemiller asked: “Would you agree that travel is an example of a category that could sometimes be required via business related expenses and others the hours could be discretionary, could be vacations?”

While Azorr agreed that travel, insurance and pension expenses could hypothetically contain gray areas between what is discretionary and non-discretionary, he noted that he was unaware of the travel to which the defense was referring and that these exceptions would be considered on a case – on a case-by-case basis.

Based on the records available to it, Azorr reiterated that in its analysis of the couple’s bank statements and financial records, the couple remained in financial difficulty even after taking out the loan in October 2017.

“The signs have changed,” Azorr said. “There were different signs before and new indicators after that, with the starting indicator being that you’re taking money out of a retirement account. It’s distress.

He continued: “Before the indicator was late mortgage payments from Wells Fargo, borrowing from Foresters and overdrafts, all combined at the same time. He went on to say that, in his professional opinion, the couple continued to spend more resources than their income allowed.

Despite this analysis, Azorr confirmed that it did not find any NSF checks or other similar indicators on any of Brophy’s accounts in 2018.

When the defense pointed out that the couple still had access to approximately $24,000 in funds, including nearly $13,000 in credit, at the time of the murder, and suggested that those numbers did not show the couple were in “acute distress on June 2, 2018, “Azorr disagreed, saying the couple’s financial records revealed they had spent all but $5,000 of the $35,000 loan and were short on additional funds.

“They borrowed half of their 401K, it’s worse than before,” the financial analyst said. “The retirement fund that they may have been using to maintain their mortgage was now down to $5,000. Thus, they spend more than their normal household income. I wouldn’t call it a great situation.

As the prosecution began questioning Azorr, he said records show Nancy and Daniel continued to spend the same amount, if not more, in 2018 in the months leading up to Daniel’s murder.

The accountant said financial records indicated the Brophys’ monthly mortgage payment was around $1,550 and noted that the payment would have been considered particularly low because it included property tax and their insurance.

Although he told the prosecution, “you couldn’t find rent close to that,” for a one-bedroom apartment in Portland today, regarding how the Brophys paid their monthly multi-bedroom home, Azorr said signs of late payment had begun to appear. saved in the couple’s financial records as early as May 2018.

Azorr told the prosecution he believed the Brophys’ financial distress could ultimately have been avoided.

“When I look at this, I think it’s a shame because I really don’t see any reason why they had to be behind on their Wells Fargo payment, and they never would have had to borrow from the till of retirement,” Azorr said. . “They kind of created this chain reaction. It has just been built and grown…”

Despite the temporary solution with the retirement loan, the prosecution argued that the Brophys continued to pay high insurance premiums and deplete their savings in the months leading up to June 2018. Azorr said that if the couple did not change not drastically change his spending habits, they would have faced other financial difficulties, including potential overdrafts and late payments.

“I believe they were in financial difficulty, and this continued through savings spent and borrowing from the retirement fund,” the financial analyst said. “It left them in dire straits, whether in the bank account or the retirement account.”

He added: “They fixed some things with the money… they got it right with it, but it comes at a cost. It wasn’t free.

The murder trial is expected to resume after a brief break on Wednesday morning April 27, when the defense begins its closing arguments.

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