KGW Staff, Bryant Clerkley (KGW), Anthony Macuk (KGW)
PORTLAND, Ore. (KGW) — A jury has found romance novelist Nancy Crampton Brophy guilty of murdering her husband Daniel Brophy in 2018. A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for June 13. The defense team plans to appeal, according to an Associated Press report.
“[I’m] just very, very thankful that everything has turned out the way it has,” said Daniel Brophy’s mother, Karen Brophy, speaking outside the courtroom after the verdict was read. “It’s been a long three and a half years.”
Karen Brophy was one of several family members who testified during the trial, along with Nathaniel Stillwater, Daniel Brophy’s son from a previous marriage.
“We’ve all been waiting three and a half, almost four years now to start grieving this loss,” Stillwater added. “To finally have some closure has been very important and meaningful for our family, and feel that we can start to move on and remember my father always, but begin that process of starting to grieve.”
The verdict concludes a trial that began more than seven weeks ago. Prosecutors and Crampton Brophy’s defense attorneys each made their closing arguments Monday, and the state delivered a rebuttal to the defense’s closing argument Tuesday morning.
The jury left the courtroom shortly before 10:30 a.m. Tuesday to begin deliberating after receiving final instructions from Judge Christopher Ramras. Deliberations continued through the rest of the day and into the next morning. The jury returned and delivered the verdict just after noon on Wednesday.
Karen Brophy said she felt that justice had been served, and she appreciated that the world was able to learn more about her son through the trial.
“I feel like through the trial Portland has learned that our son was a great guy, and we really miss him,” she said, “and it’s been a heartwarming experience in that way to know how much people thought of him, and what a great guy he really was.”
Crampton Brophy, 71, was accused of shooting and killing her husband, 63-year-old Daniel Brophy, who was found shot to death on June 2, 2018 inside the Oregon Culinary Institute in Portland where he worked as a chef and instructor.
Crampton Brophy is a self-published romance writer who in 2011 penned an essay titled “How to Murder Your Husband” (Ramras ruled on Day 1 of the trial that the essay would not be permitted as evidence).
Crampton Brophy was arrested in September 2018. She faced a single charge of second-degree murder in the trial, to which she pleaded not guilty. The trial began April 5 and was expected to take about six weeks, although it ended up running longer due to a pause midway through after someone in the courtroom tested positive for COVID-19.
Prosecutors claimed Crampton Brophy stood to gain a significant amount of life insurance money from her husband’s death, and brought in multiple witnesses to support their claim that the Brophys were facing financial issues at the time of the murder.
Prosecutors also focused on surveillance of a van believed to be Crampton Brophy’s that was seen around the Culinary Institute on the date of the murder. In closing arguments, the state hammered home to jurors that Crampton Brophy lied about her whereabouts that morning.
The prosecution also focused on the gun used in the murder. Prosecutors contended that Brophy first researched and purchased a “ghost gun” kit online, then later bought a Glock 17 handgun at the Portland Gun Expo and separately purchased another slide and barrel designed to fit it.
Portland police detectives testified that the slide and barrel on the gun that Crampton Brophy surrendered on the day of the homicide were not used at the crime, but that police were unable to recover the additional slide and barrel to compare it to the bullets fired at the crime scene.
Prosecutors also called in Andrea Jacobs, a former cellmate of Crampton Brophy, to testify as a rebuttal witness. When asked by prosecutors if she had ever spoken with Crampton Brophy about how her husband had died, Jacobs said, “Yes. She told me that he was shot two times to the heart, and she showed me the distance.” She said Crampton Brophy stretched out her arms and said, “it was about this far.”
Jacobs told the prosecutor that Crampton Brophy initially started to say “I” instead of “it,” but that she appeared to have misspoken and corrected herself.
The defense questioned Jacobs about her criminal history dating back several years, including embezzlement, fraud and identity theft, and pressed Jacobs on whether she planned to use her testimony to her benefit. Jacobs admitted that she had a pending motion for compassionate release from prison when she spoke to detectives about Crampton Brophy, but denied seeking any benefit from the conversation.
During its own case, the defense argued that the prosecution’s evidence was circumstantial, disputed the accusations of financial trouble and asserted that Crampton Brophy could not have killed her husband because they were in love to the very end.
Crampton Brophy’s niece, Sarah Gitchell, testified that Crampton-Brophy and her husband seemed to have an ideal relationship, and that Gitchell had spent a lot of time with Crampton Brophy after her husband was murdered.
“I personally observed her grieving, crying, sobbing, breaking down many times,” she said.
In her own testimony, Crampton Brophy said she missed her husband, calling him smart, bright, funny, kind and humble.
“It’s like you’ve lost an arm. Like you’re just not as good as you were when you’re with him,” she said. “You were the best you could be when you were together with him. Now it’s like, yeah, I function, but there’s something missing.”
She said the couple had struggled financially from 2014 to 2017, but had a plan to sell their home and buy a smaller property to catch up on debt and mortgage payments, and that they had purchased life insurance policies for both of them as part of their retirement planning. She also said her research into ghost guns was in preparation for a future novel.
Previous coverage of the Brophy trial:
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