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franklin county times

Adams invokes Fifth Amendment, declines to testify

By By Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
Feb. 9, 2001
In the fourth day of her murder trial Thursday, Mary Ann Adams invoked her Fifth Amendment right not to testify in her own defense.
Adams and her brother, John Barrett, are accused of the June 1998 murder of Adams' best friend and co-worker, Mary Ann Woolf. Prosecutors allege the pair drowned Woolf, then staged a car accident to conceal their crime in order to collect on a life insurance policy which carried a double indemnity for accidental death.
Before prosecutors rested their case, they called Sharon B. Walters, a former Adams friend who testified she was persuaded by Adams to drink an alcoholic beverage in 1992, then woke up in an intensive care unit after being severely injured in a bizarre train-car collision.
Walters said she and Adams were driving from Jackson to Meridian and had stopped in Newton to visit one of Adams' relatives. She said after drinking the orange juice and Vodka mix, the last thing she remembered was Adams driving up to what she described as a galvanized gate, then blowing the horn.
Walters testified she was later told her car was hit by a train while she was in the vehicle with the doors locked and both the engine and lights turned off. She said she learned of the $250,000 life insurance policy after she awoke in the hospital.
The policy, which listed Adams as the beneficiary, also listed Walters as Adams' sister, but the two are of no relation, she said. Walters further testified that Adams never called her or came to see her in the hospital.
After Walters' testimony, the defense called an insurance agent who testified that Woolf bought the policy and paid the premiums. The agent was not allowed to say who recommended him to Woolf.
The defense also questioned Philadelphia attorney Laurel G. Weir about a receipt for legal services he issued to Adams from his office the night of Walters' train accident. District Attorney Bilbo Mitchell questioned Weir about the 10:30 p.m. time listed on the receipt.
Weir's testimony revealed Adams had written the receipt. The jurors examined the receipt carefully, passing it among themselves twice.
Next on the stand was Dr. Joseph Garceau, who was called by defense attorney Charles Wright to rebut earlier testimony given by state medical examiner Dr. Steven Hayne. Garceau told the jury he possessed a medical license in both Mississippi and Alabama, but during questioning by Mitchell, Garceau recanted his statement, saying he wasn't positive he had medical licenses in either state.
Despite Mitchell's objections, Lauderdale County Circuit Court Judge Larry Roberts allowed Garceau's opinion that Woolf drowned accidentally.
Taking the stand at the end of the day was Adams' live-in boyfriend, Mississippi Highway Patrolman Floyd Spears. Spears said he and Adams attended Woolf's funeral from their car since they were late arriving at the graveside service. He also told jurors that Adams took Woolf's death "very hard," and that she is still grieving.
When asked if Adams' was okay with Woolf's children receiving her death benefit or if she fought for the money in court, Spears said, "I don't know," but conceded in his next statement he offered testimony in the trial over who would get the money.
The trial is expected to conclude today.
Marianne Todd is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at mtodd@themeridianstar.com.