Testimony continues in Passaniti murder-for-hire trial

Major developments in murder for hire murder plot
Passaniti is charged with the murder of her 73-year-old stepfather, Ernest Luttrell.
Passaniti is charged with the murder of her 73-year-old stepfather, Ernest Luttrell.

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Testimony will resume Saturday in the murder-for-hire trial of Linda Kate Passaniti, accused mastermind in the plot to kill her stepfather for access to his money.

Passaniti is charged with the murder of 73-year-old Ernest Luttrell in July of 2010. Prosecutors say Passaniti and Luttrell's wife, Loretta Luttrell, arranged for his murder in order to gain access to hundreds of thousands of dollars paid to Ernest for mineral rights to his property.

Passaniti's daughter, Kim Passaniti Falcon, spent 9 hours on the stand Friday, answering detailed and pointed questions about the family's finances. Falcon testified that she firmly believes her mother is innocent in the murder of her grandfather.

Kim broke down on the stand and cried late in the afternoon as the DA's Office continued to press her about Loretta Luttrell's trust fund, an account in which she had reportedly been named trustee.

On Thursday, jury members pored over pages of Luttrell's living will that was drafted in 2008. Prosecutor Dale Cox told jurors that Passaniti was enraged to find out that her stepfather sold the mineral rights.

Passaniti is one of four people implicated in Luttrell's murder. They include Luttrell's wife, Loretta Luttrell, Erick Crain, and Tina VanMoerkeque, the housekeeper. Crain and VanMoerkeque took a plea deal and avoided the death penalty. Loretta Luttrell was deemed not mentally fit to stand trial by Caddo Judge John Mosely, Jr..

"Crain, whom the term 'stupid' would be a compliment, will testify," Cox told the jury. He said a caveat existed in the plea deal that would require Crain and VanMoerkeque to testify truthfully, Cox said if they didn't the DA's Office would revoke the deal and seek the death penalty.

In his opening statement Cox described Passaniti as an intelligent mastermind in the murder plot, and said she was motivated by what he called repulsive greed.

Jury members poured through pages of Luttrell's will that was drafted in 2008 and heard testimony from Loretta Luttrell's sister, Rosie Jones. 

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