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Saturday, January 9, 2010

[VA] No one allowed to share slain Joann Allison Webster's words. Ex-cop Webster sentenced only for abducting her.

A former Fairfax County police officer [Bruce Webster], whose wife was slain in 1991, was sentenced Friday to 19 years in prison for abducting her twice in the months before her death, but he has not been charged with killing her...

[VA] 18 years LATE, Ex-Officer Bruce Webster convicted of abducting his now slain wife, Joann.
- ...Police continued to work on the homicide case but could not implicate the 17-year police veteran...  [Prosecutors] could not use the words of their victim. Under legal rules, Joann Webster's statements to police qualified as hearsay... The comments she made to a lieutenant after an incident on May 18, 1990, in which she claimed that Bruce Webster tied her up and held her at gunpoint overnight, were not admissible. Her statements to an officer and a detective after escaping from Webster at a Woodbridge 7-Eleven in January 1991 also were inadmissible...

By Tom Jackman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 9, 2010

A former Fairfax County police officer, whose wife was slain in 1991, was sentenced Friday to 19 years in prison for abducting her twice in the months before her death, but he has not been charged with killing her.

Bruce Webster, 69, a former patrol officer in the Mount Vernon Police District, met Joann Allison when she was waiting tables at Elsie's Magic Skillet, a Route 1 diner and regular hangout for officers. Webster and Allison were married in the diner in October 1988.

Webster, a Vietnam War veteran, spent 18 years as a Fairfax officer, resigning in January 1990. The couple then moved to Alabama. But not long after, Joann Webster decided to separate from her husband, return to Fairfax and resume waitressing at the Skillet, according to former owner Elsie Plues's trial testimony in August.

But in May 1990, Joann Webster went to a bank near the Skillet and withdrew $9,000 while her estranged husband watched. She then ran to the Skillet and told Plues that her husband had "tied her to a chair, threatening to kill her," and forced her to withdraw the money, Plues testified.

Bruce Webster's attorneys said that his wife had fled Alabama with $15,000 from their joint account, leaving him penniless.

Plues urged Joann Webster to report the incident to police. She did, but refused to prosecute.

Seven months later, on New Year's, a bloodied Joann Webster turned up at a 7-Eleven store in Woodbridge, claiming that she had been abducted and tied up by her estranged husband, witnesses testified. This time she agreed to prosecute, and Bruce Webster was charged with abduction.

On Feb. 15, 1991, divorce papers were served on Bruce Webster. The next day, Joann Webster didn't show up for work at the Skillet. She was found fatally stabbed in her apartment in Sacramento Square, wearing her waitress uniform, police said. She was 44.

Several days later, Bruce Webster did not appear for his preliminary hearing on the abduction charge. Prosecutors, without their complaining witness, did not pursue the case. Homicide detectives said they investigated Webster closely in the death of his estranged wife but couldn't make a case.

In 2007, Fairfax cold case homicide detectives [Steve Milefsky and Robert Murphy] revisited the slaying and tracked down Webster, who was living in a one-room apartment in Las Vegas. During several long, taped conversations, Webster denied killing or kidnapping his wife. But he did say, "When I get angry, people get seriously hurt or they die."

A Fairfax grand jury indicted Webster in May of last year for both abduction incidents and use of a gun in one of them. A trial jury convicted him of the three counts, recommending eight-year sentences on both abduction counts and three years for using a gun. Webster did not testify.

At his sentencing hearing, Joann Webster's daughter, Tammy Magouirk, testified that "it's something that doesn't go away. It has colored my relationships. How do you trust people when things like this happen to your mom? I was in a bad relationship, but I was terrified to end it. I stayed in that relationship for 15 years."

Bruce Webster declined to make a statement to Fairfax Circuit Court Judge Jonathan C. Thacher. Webster's attorney, Deputy Public Defender Dawn M. Butorac, said he was not remorseful because he maintains that he did not kidnap or kill his wife.  [LINK]
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