PORTLAND, Ore. (KGW) — Editor’s note: Above is a live stream of the Nancy Brophy trial day four. Below are highlights from trial on Wednesday.
Day three of Nancy Brophy’s murder trial saw witness testimony from Dan Brophy’s mom, a longtime acquaintance of the couple, officers who worked on the scene and medical examiners — including the one who conducted Dan Brophy’s autopsy.
Nancy Brophy, a romance novelist, is accused of killing her husband Dan Brophy, a chef at the Oregon Culinary Institute. Students found him shot to death on June 2, 2018.
The first witness called to the stand was Maxine Borcherding, a former instructor who worked at the culinary school until 2015 and was an acquaintance of the Brophys. She testified to knowing Nancy Brophy for approximately 30 years.
Borcherding said on the morning of the shooting, she heard about something going on at the institute from a former coworker. Borcherding called Nancy Brophy to let her know but said it had never occurred to her that the victim may have been Dan Brophy.
She testified Brophy told her on the phone, “Oh you know Dan, he would never call me, I would have to wait until he got home to learn what happened.”
Like Borcherding before her, Nancy Brophy also called Dan Brophy’s phone and got no answer.
Borcherding said Nancy Brophy had never had a bad word to say about her husband and was always his biggest supporter. She also said that Dan Brophy’s teaching style could be harsh, and he had been known to embarrass or humiliate students over the years.
Nancy’s lawyers asked Borcherding about the homeless population in the Goose Hollow neighborhood where the culinary institute was, as they’ve asked multiple witnesses who have taken the stand so far.
While it is the state’s job to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Nancy Brophy shot and killed her husband, it is the defense’s job to supply a possible alternate scenario that would sow reasonable doubt in the jury. The defense has brought up an open garage door to the culinary institute’s storeroom several times, as it offers an alternate way into the building that anyone could have accessed at or around the time of Dan Brophy’s murder.
Dan Brophy’s mother testifies
Karen Brophy, Dan Brophy’s mother, took the stand for the first time on Wednesday. She is expected to testify several more times throughout the trial, but her first time on the stand saw her asked specifically about the phone calls she shared with Nancy Brophy on the day of her son’s death.
Nancy Brophy called Karen Brophy to let her know that something was happening at the culinary institute.
“I said to her, ‘Well are you going to go down there?’ and she said, ‘No I’m not going to go because there will just be a lot of policemen there and a lot of cars,’” Karen Brophy said.
She said she called Nancy Brophy back shortly after and encouraged her to go, and Nancy Brophy said she would. Their last phone call was about an hour later, Karen Brophy said, when Nancy Brophy said she was with police and it was Dan Brophy who had been killed.
Karen Brophy said Nancy Brophy was very matter of fact about it being Dan Brophy who had been killed, but both women began to cry on the phone.
“I said, ‘Oh Nancy’ and I was crying and she did cry.”
Later in the day, Dr. Michele Stauffenberg, deputy state medical examiner for the state of Oregon, took the stand. She conducted the autopsy on Dan Brophy.
Stauffenberg testified that Brophy came in with clothes on that she examined and she found several things on him, including $77 in cash. She indicated there was an entrance and incomplete exit wound on Brophy’s chest and on his back, and he had likely been shot in the back and the chest.
Both bullets were still inside Dan Brophy’s body when she began examining him and both had the likelihood to be fatal — having pierced his heart and left lung, she said. One had pierced his spinal column and cord, paralyzing him from the injury down his body.
His cause of death was listed as “gunshot wounds of torso,” and his manner of death was listed as “homicide.”
The final witness for the day was the lead homicide detective on the case, Anthony Merrill with the Portland Police Bureau.
Merrill and his team, as part of their investigation, checked all the exits and entrances into the culinary institute and could find no sign of forced entry. He was made aware that the garage door to the storeroom had been open, but when he arrived on scene it had been shut.
He also looked in the rooms and kitchens in the school.
“Everything was laid out like it had never been disturbed… nothing was out of the ordinary,” Merrill testified. “I mean, based on what I had been briefed on, a man had been shot to death in his business … that the garage door was open, I thought I was going to see a robbery-type incident where someone came in there, saw a window of opportunity … to steal something valuable.”
When pressed by the defense as to whether he would know if anything was stolen, as if comparing items to an inventory list, Merrill said no, but that police had the staff at the school take inventory and they were not alerted to anything missing.
Merill also testified that he believed Dan Brophy was standing at the sink with his back to the door when someone came and shot him in the back. He believes Brophy then fell to the ground on his back and was shot in the chest at short range. He was the only person who could testify how Brophy might have been shot.
Court will continue on Thursday. Both Karen and Jack Brophy, Dan Brophy’s mother and father, are expected to take the stand.
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