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CHERCHEZ LA FEMME

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They began making trips to Rocky Point to plan the murder. Willoughby showed Yesenia the cottage in which he planned to do the deed.

He had constructed a medieval macelike weapon for the task. It was a heavy metal ball attached to a rope about 18 inches long. Willoughby would swing it at his wife's head from behind and crush her skull. It would be a quick death.

Yesenia speaks of it now.
He said he was going to do the killing.
`Let me take the satisfaction,' he said. But he needed me.

He would kill her and leave the house unlocked and then I would come in and steal her rings and mess up the place so police would think it was a robbery." ²The tricky part of the prosecution's case for Mitchell is that there are no witnesses to the crime.

Willoughby arranged to bring his three children along with his wife to spend a vacation in the Rocky Point cottage.

On the day of the crime, he took the three children out for an afternoon of sightseeing. Just as he was about to drive the kids away, he excused himself to go back in the cottage.

The theory of the case is that he bludgeoned his wife at this point and left her body on the bed. Yesenia was parked a block away, waiting for Willoughby to leave with the kids.

She saw him go back into the house to commit the murder while leaving his unsuspecting kids waiting outside in the van.

It didn't take long," Yesenia says. I would say three to five minutes and he comes out and they all drive off." Yesenia went up to the place and entered through the rear door, which he had left opened.

She was lying on the bed covered with towels and napkins...not breathing...she kind of sounded like a chicken with its neck cut off." Yesenia admits she began stabbing Trish Willoughby but didn't want to break her skin. She tried to strangle her, too, but couldn't do it because the bed was too soft.

I take off the rings and I take about $13 from her purse. I take papers and scatter them around the house." She shrugs.

Dan told me to make it look like a robbery." When this was done, Yesenia got back in a pickup truck with her brother and drove back to Mesa.

A couple of hours later, Willoughby returned with his children.
To make it look better, Willoughby allowed his children to enter the house first. They burst into her room, eager to tell about their trip.

They found the mutilated body of their mother on the bed. She was covered in blood. There was a knife sticking out of her head.

Yesenia had actually met Trish once before the killing. She talked of it on the witness stand.

She came to my place in the Windemere apartments," Yesenia tells Mitchell.
Dan called me to warn that she was coming. He told me to tell her that I am his Spanish teacher.

When she came, she accused me of sleeping with her husband. She was a tall, conservative woman. I invited her into my apartment because I didn't like her screaming at me at the pool where everyone could hear.

`All I am is his Spanish teacher,' I told her. `I'm not interested in him.'
²ÔShe told me she had all kinds of problems and warned me against getting involved. After a while, I asked her to give me a ride to Fiesta Mall so I could go shopping." Was she a nice lady?" Mitchell asks.

Yesenia shrugs.
At first when she came on to me shouting like that, I didn't like her. But once she stopped screaming, she seemed pleasant enough." ²When Yesenia was finished testifying, a police officer led her out of court through the back door. She was headed back to the Mexican jail where she faces a 40-year sentence.

Willoughby stared at her as she left. It was probably the last time he would ever see Yesenia Patino.

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Tom Fitzpatrick