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Prosecutors, defense outline cases in murder trial of Adams, Barrett

By By Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
FEB. 6, 2001
Prosecutors in the murder trial of Mary Ann Adams and her brother, John Barrett, said they plan to make their case mostly on circumstantial evidence.
The trial opened Monday and was in its second day today in Lauderdale County Circuit Court.
The pair is accused in the June 1998 death of Mary Ann Woolf, who prosecutors say was killed in order for Adams to collect money on a life insurance policy in which Adams was the beneficiary.
District attorney Bilbo Mitchell said the evidence will include a 1992 incident involving another case in which Adams took out a life insurance policy on another friend.
Mitchell said that $250,000 policy also included a double indemnity for accidental death. That friend, Sharon Walters, is expected to testify that Adams offered her a drink while Walters was driving to Newton, that Adams insisted she drink the orange juice and Vodka mix and that the drink is the last thing Walters remembers before waking up in intensive care after being struck by a train.
Mitchell said prosecutors also plan to enter fingerprint evidence taken from Woolf's car. The fingerprints belong to Barrett although he stated he had never met Woolf, Mitchell said.
Prosecutors also plan to show how Adams conducted a bogus search for Woolf after she became missing, leading Woolf's daughter down the dark, dirt road where Woolf's car and body lay in a creek.
Testimony will reveal Barrett instructed his friend, Jefferson Long, who is charged as an accessory to murder after the fact, to drive to Alabama to fish on the day of the alleged murder, Mitchell said. The evidence will show Barrett instructed Long to get a ticket using Barrett's license, and then later bragged about his excellent alibi.
Adams' attorney, Charles Wright, said investigators tainted the case by targeting Adams as a suspect and by encouraging witnesses to "testify loosely and falsely."
Wright said the life insurance policy was bought by Woolf and named Adams as a beneficiary to care for Woolf's daughter.
Barrett's attorney, public defender Stewart Parrish, said Barrett did not deny meeting Woolf, and that he was with Woolf the day before he went fishing in Alabama.
Parrish said the fingerprints found on Woolf's car prove only that he touched the outer portion of her car at some point.
The trial is expected to conclude Friday.
Marianne Todd is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at mtodd@themeridianstar.com.