Crime & Courts

Woman guilty in 2000 murder

For 10 years, no one knew how Todd Stover died in the spring of 2000.

It only took a jury 38 minutes Wednesday to convict Sharon Huddleston of first-degree premeditated murder in his death.

Huddleston had admitted to police that she stabbed Stover in the back with a syringe, injecting him with a lethal dose of insulin because she was upset because he didn't help her find a job.

Casey Cotton, Huddleston's attorney, had urged the jury to consider the lesser charge of second-degree murder. Cotton said Huddleston also told police she had not meant to kill Stover but just "mess him up."

"You don't accidentally stab a person with insulin — twice," said Sedgwick County Assistant District Attorney Matthew Dwyer.

Dwyer and Chief Deputy District Attorney Kim Parker pointed to Huddleston's former training as a nurse in knowing what injecting a non-diabetic with insulin would do.

"Then for five hours, they watch," Dwyer said.

Stover, 36, was found dead in May 2000 in a ditch by a rural road in Greenwood County. Jeff Newsum of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and Dwight Wilkes of the Park City police continued to follow dead ends for the next decade.

A break in the case came last year when Sharon Edwards called police in Carthage, Mo., where she lived.

Edwards owned the house in Park City where she had lived 10 years earlier with Huddleston and Huddleston's sister, Rhonda Pischel.

Pischel had meet Stover at a bar, and he had briefly stayed in the house, Edwards said.

Huddleston was unemployed, and Stover had said he could help her land a job at Boeing, Edwards told police. But Edwards said Huddleston became enraged when she found out Stover didn't work at Boeing.

Edwards said she was afraid of Huddleston and remained silent about the killing until last March.

In failing health, Edwards told police she wanted someone to know the truth.

Newsum, the KBI agent, testified that Huddleston and Pischel confirmed details of Stover's death, including dumping his body.

Prosecutors also presented letters Huddleston had written to Pischel while they were in jail, suggesting they blame Edwards for the death and try to concoct an alibi of being out of town.

"Hold her responsible for what she did 10 years ago, and has escaped for 10 years," Chief Deputy District Attorney Kim Parker said in her closing arguments. "It's time."

Huddleston, 56, faces life in prison when she returns for sentencing March 4 before Sedgwick County District Judge Ben Burgess.

Pischel, 55, is also charged with first-degree murder. She's set for trial in May.