(Albuquerque) It’s been three years in the making, but the much-anticipated murder trial of Linda Henning finally begins today with jury selection.
Henning, the self-described “mate” of Diazien Hossencofft, is charged with killing his wife, Girly Chew Hossencofft, in 1999. Initially, this appears to be a story that reads like something out of a dime-store science fiction novel; documents filed in the case indicate that Henning wanted to become queen of an alien race, and believed she had to kill Ms. Hossencofft to make that royal leap.
However, prosecutors are likely to argue that–at its core–this is a classic domestic violence case: A wife finally gets the guts to leave her abusive husband. He has many girlfriends, but the manipulative ladies-man can’t stand the thought of not having control over his wife. One of the girlfriends agrees to help commit murder.
The defense, no doubt, will make a compelling argument that Henning is innocent: First, and foremost, there is no body. And, as for Henning’s blood that was found inside Ms. Hossencofft’s apartment, it was planted there…by Mr. Hossencofft. Henning is innocent. She’s never been in Girly’s apartment. Never even seen the woman.
Which version resembles the actual truth? That will be up to the jury to decide. A jury that can count on this: An unimaginable amount of forensic evidence. If you’re a fan of the hit television show, CSI, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. The State’s case is largely built on a massive amount of forensic evidence. The jury will not only hear about blood, but about glitter, deer hair, cat hair, a feather, tarp and much more (please refer to this site’s archives, for more information on the forensic evidence).
Speaking of forensics, the country’s foremost forensic psychiatrist, Dr. Park Elliot Dietz, has agreed to testify as a state’s witness, if needed. The man who’s already testified as an expert witness in the Jeffrey Dahmer, Unabomber (Ted Kaczynski) and other well-known cases may soon be adding Linda Henning to his list of trial appearances.
It is a trial that is likely to cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars and last about six weeks. The state’s witness list, once in excess of 400 names, is now whittled to about 70. Still, a large number.
And New Mexicans won’t be the only one’s watching closely. The judge has said that the television program “Court TV” will have its cameras in the courtroom.
A grand jury indicted Henning on 20 charges, including murder and kidnapping, last year.
Diazien Hossencofft is already sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Girly Chew Hossencofft. He made a plea bargain earlier this year in exchange for a life sentence. In that deal, Hossencofft agreed to tell police exactly what happened to Ms. Hossencofft. Mr. Hossencofft told investigators Bill Miller actually killed Ms. Hossencofft for sport. Mr. Hossencofft indicated to the court that he agreed to plead guilty in order to protect the innocent (he presumably means Henning).
Bill Miller is indicted on lesser charges, including tampering with evidence. He is out of jail on bond. Miller’s trial date is not set. However, both the prosecution and defense (Miller’s attorney is Ray Twohig) have indicated that they are aiming for a December 2002 trial date.