A jury in the US city of Portland has convicted a self-published romance novelist who wrote an essay titled How to Murder Your Husband of fatally shooting her husband.
The 12-person jury found Nancy Crampton Brophy, 71, guilty of second-degree murder on Wednesday after deliberating for two days over Daniel Brophy’s death, according to reports.
Brophy, a 63-year-old chef, was killed on 2 June 2018 as he prepared for work at the Oregon Culinary Institute in south-west Portland.
Crampton Brophy showed no visible reaction to the verdict in the crowded Multnomah county courtroom. Lisa Maxfield, one of her lawyers, said the defence team would appeal against the decision.
The defendant’s 2011 how-to treatise detailed various options for committing an untraceable killing, written in the form of a brainstorming exercise for writers.
Its opening reads: “As a romantic suspense writer, I spend a lot of time thinking about murder and, consequently, about police procedure. After all, if the murder is supposed to set me free, I certainly don’t want to spend any time in jail. And let me say clearly for the record, I don’t like jumpsuits and orange isn’t my color.”
The blogpost went on to detail motives – financial, “lying, cheating bastard”, abuser – and a discussion of possible methods. Knives were “personal and close up. Blood everywhere”, while poison, “considered a woman’s weapon”, was too easy to trace, Crampton Brophy wrote. Guns were “loud, messy, require some skill”.
The circuit judge Christopher Ramras had excluded the essay from the trial, noting it had been published several years ago. Jurors were not allowed to consider it in their judgment. A prosecutor, however, alluded to the essay’s themes without naming it after Crampton Brophy took the stand.
Prosecutors told jurors Crampton Brophy was motivated by money problems and a life insurance policy.
However, Crampton Brophy said she had no reason to kill her husband and their financial problems had largely been solved by cashing in a portion of Brophy’s retirement savings plan.
She owned the same make and model of gun used to kill her husband and was seen on surveillance footage driving to and from the culinary institute, court exhibits and testimony showed.
Prosecutors alleged Crampton Brophy had bought a “ghost gun”, an untraceable firearm kit, and swapped parts with a shop-bought handgun.
Police have never found the gun that killed Brophy.
Defence lawyers said the gun parts were the inspiration for an idea Crampton Brophy’s had for a new book and suggested someone else might have killed Brophy during a botched robbery.
Crampton Brophy testified that her presence near the culinary school on the day of her husband’s death was mere coincidence and that she had parked in the area to work on her writing.
Crampton Brophy has been in custody since her arrest in September 2018. She will be sentenced on 13 June.
“I find it is easier to wish people dead than to actually kill them,” Crampton Brophy wrote in her 2011 post. “I don’t want to worry about blood and brains splattered on my walls. And really, I’m not good at remembering lies. But the thing I know about murder is that every one of us have it in him/her when pushed far enough.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report