By: Grace Wong, Court TV
PELLA, Iowa — Is Michelle Boat a scorned, obsessed woman seething with anger or a heartbroken, devastated wife who killed in a fit of passion? That will be the question for jurors as defense attorney Jill Eimerman told jurors this was not a “whodunnit,” before declaring that her client was indeed Tracy Mondabough’s killer.
“I will stand here and I will tell you that Michelle Boat is responsible, Michelle Boat is the one with the knife and Michelle Boat is the one that stabbed her,” said Eimermann. “The fact that I’m standing here right now 20 minutes into the trial I’m telling you this isn’t a whodunnit. Police got the right person.”
VIDEO: Michelle Boat, 55, is accused of fatally stabbing 46-year-old Tracy Mondabough, her estranged husband’s girlfriend. Day 1 of her murder trial was very emotional for the defendant. (Court TV)
She urged jurors to consider more than the date of the incident but the preceding 69 days – the period during which Michelle’s husband left their home – leaving her feeling abandoned and lost in midst of a pandemic.
Prosecutor Ed Bull, on the other hand, painted a picture of an angry, obsessed woman who could not let go after her husband moved out and began hunting his girlfriend – stalking her until she saw her opportunity to pounce.
Bull said Mondabough was oblivious to Michelle’s jealous obsession — as she followed her around town on May 18, armed with a knife and rubber gloves. She saw her chance when she followed Mondabough out of the parking lot of her husband’s workplace after watching them share a meal and a kiss. She drove to Mondabough’s home and attacked her, he said before she could even unbuckle her seat belt.
Despite fighting back – Mondabough succumbed to a stab wound to the heart – but not before she grabbed enough evidence to identify her killer. The prosecutor said she was still clinging to some of Michelle’s hair when she died.
Michelle Boat was emotional throughout the day, sobbing, wiping her eyes, blowing her nose, and clutching her chest. She was particularly emotional when her husband took the stand to describe the last meal he shared with his lover.
Her demeanor was markedly different from how she behaved over the two days at jury selection. She walked into the meeting hall where dozens of prospective jurors were gathered–appearing calm and relaxed. She was not shackled or handcuffed and chatted amiably with the sheriff’s deputies escorting her in and out of the building.
At times she seemed a little indifferent to the whole process letting her attorneys huddle over their peremptory strikes with only the occasional side glance. For the most part, she sat quietly and unmoved while her jury was being chosen.
Today’s evidence included testimony from two neighbors, one who testified that he repeatedly heard the phrase, “He doesn’t belong to you, he’s mine,” during a fight between two women. Another neighbor, Julie Kuiper, described a scuffle with one person outside of the vehicle reaching inside the driver’s side. She said when she saw the woman outside of the vehicle step back, and push her hair away from her face, blood kept her hair standing up. She also noticed that the woman had the stance of a sumo wrestler or the Hulk.
Jurors also saw a series of videos capturing Michelle’s car following Mondabough’s pickup over several miles before leading up to the confrontation. Prosecutors played a dramatic bodycam video of police arriving at the crime scene as well as at Michelle’s house, where jurors saw her answer the door in a robe and a hair towel telling officers ‘I was in the shower.”
Court resumes at 10/9c with the continuation of the prosecution’s case. Testimony resumes with remaining witnesses of the prosecution including crime scene techs, DNA analysts, and a medical examiner, who’s expected to introduce gruesome autopsy photos.
The State is expected to rest Friday, and then there’s the big question of whether or not the defendant will testify. If she does not testify, the court will send the jury home to return Monday for closings and lawyers will hash out instructions in a charge conference.