Crime & Courts

Trial over Wichita woman’s stabbing death set for jury Thursday

No one disputes the fact that Guy Palmer stabbed his wife to death before he walked into the Sedgwick County Jail on the morning of Dec. 16, 2012, and asked to be arrested.

A Sedgwick County jury on Thursday will be asked to decide whether it was first-degree murder.

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is not a whodunit,” prosecutor Mandee Schauf told the jury Wednesday. “The question you will be asked to answer is, ‘Was this killing done with premeditation?’ ”

Wichita police said Palmer, 56, stabbed Debra Palmer, 61, in the basement of the couple’s home at 6800 E. Farmview in northeast Wichita, then drove to the jail and confessed.

Defense lawyer Quentin Pittman told the jury that Guy and Debra Palmer had a rocky 20-year relationship that was coming to an end in December. When Guy Palmer confronted his wife about having an affair, Pittman said, Debra Palmer admitted that she was and then said, “I need a real man.”

“Guy snapped,” Pittman said. “Gripped by the heat of passion Guy Palmer killed Debra Palmer, his wife. … He killed his best friend, the woman he loved, not with premeditation but during the heat of passion.”

Schauf said premeditation can be seen in the viciousness of the attack and in Palmer’s actions afterward.

“He made no effort to get help,” she said. “He made no effort to call 911 after he stabbed her.”

The first witness to testify was sheriff’s Cpl. Faviola Torres, who said she was working at the front desk of the jail about 7:30 on a Sunday morning when Palmer “walks in through the front door and says he needs to be arrested.”

“He appeared to be homeless, almost,” she said. “He was nervous. He was anxious.”

Sgt. Jeremy Woodson said Palmer was reluctant to say why he needed to be arrested. When he told Palmer he couldn’t arrest him for no reason, Woodson testified, “he kind of turned around and said, ‘Well, I killed my wife.’ ”

Also testifying was chief medical examiner Jaime Oeberst, who said Debra Palmer suffered six deep stab wounds, including one that left a deep slash in her liver.

The state rested its case Wednesday afternoon, and the case could go to the jury by noon Thursday.

At the beginning of the trial, District Judge Joe Kisner said Palmer could hold a Bible in his lap during the trial. A piece of paper was taped over the title, and he was ordered not to display the Bible to the jury.

Kisner later denied a defense request to excuse one of the jurors who appeared to be reluctant to look closely at some of the autopsy photos that were displayed on a screen at the front of the courtroom. Kisner said the jurors would be instructed at the end of the trial that they had to consider all evidence, including the autopsy photos, in their deliberations.

Related stories from Wichita Eagle