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Copper Dollar Ranch

Defense rests in Supino double murder trial

Closing arguments expected tomorrow

Defense attorney Jill Eimermann in the Black Hawk County Courthouse in Waterloo.
Defense attorney Jill Eimermann in the Black Hawk County Courthouse in Waterloo.

WATERLOO — Attorneys for Theresa "Terri" Supino rested their case Wednesday at the Black Hawk County Courthouse after just one full day of witness testimony and five people taking the stand for the defendant.

Supino is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the March 3, 1983 killings of her estranged husband, 20-year-old Steven Fisher, and his girlfriend, 17-year-old Melisa Gregory, at the former Copper Dollar Ranch northwest of Newton.

The defense did reserve its right to make an offer of proof and potentially examine Alan Shad, former co-owner of the Copper Dollar Ranch, if he appears from Florida on Thursday. Closing arguments by both county prosecutors and defense attorneys are expected to begin at 9 a.m. Thursday. The case will then be sent to jurors for deliberations.

Following Wednesday's testimony, co-defense attorney Jill Eimermann read excerpts from Fisher's medical records in the year leading to the murder. Both parties agreed to this information as a "stipulation" for the defense resting their case. A reason was not given by the defense for allowing jurors to hear the medical history, but an incident where Fisher broke his arm in February 1983 allegedly due to Supino driving down a gravel road with Fisher caught in the window, has been an important element in the state's case against the defendant.

The defense has contested not only the date of the incident but its occurrence. Several witnesses for the state have testified they remember seeing Fisher in a sling or cast in the days and months leading to his murder.

From Jan. 1, 1982 through March 1, 1983, Fisher received three treatments at Skiff Memorial Hospital in Newton, Eimermann told jurors. In August 1982, Fisher told doctors during the examination he became angry and put his hand through a glass window, resulting in lacerations on his hand with a forearm splint as treatment. Fisher's other procedures at Skiff throughout 1982 included treatment for back muscle strain and for trauma sustained during a motor vehicle accident in September 1982.

The defense tried to display what they characterized as a "reference" for jurors showing video of a driven route to the CDR from eastern Newton. Dennis Sorensen, investigator and employee of the state of Iowa, recorded the dashcam video — beginning at eastern most Interstate 80 exit in Newton, north on Highway F14 and west on County Highway F36 to the ranch.

Eimermann noted that it took Sorensen roughly 12 minutes to drive from the starting point on I-80 to the ranch. But after Jasper County Attorney Mike Jacobsen question the Sorensen Wednesday, the defense asked if the witness the video's goal was to replicate "anyone's" route to the ranch. He said it was not.

Jacobsen asked Sorensen if he was going the posted speed limit during the video or driving at the speed limits of 1983. The witness indicated he was driving between 65 and 70 mph on I-80. Jacobsen also questioned his choice of a starting point, asking Sorensen why he did not start at Melisa Gregory's former residence or Carlo Supino Jr.'s 1983 home. The witness said "he had to start somewhere" and the starting point held no significance.

The defense called Annette Crady, Supino's former Hy-Vee deli coworker from roughly 1979-1982. She recounted a phone call she received from Supino March 4, 1983 following the murders. Crady said Supino appeared "upset." Crady reiterated what has become a theme throughout the trial that Supino and Fisher's relationship was rocky at best filled with infidelity by Fisher.

"In my opinion, it's a marriage that probably shouldn't have been because they seemed to argue all the time," Crady said.

Despite the pattern of unfaithful behavior, Crady said Supino took Fisher back "every time" and the witness never saw the two get into a physical altercation. She also testified that although Supino appeared to be a reliable employee, she had a hard time even making Jell-O.

"I don't want to hurt her feelings, but she really wasn't the brightest crayon in the box," Crady said.

Rhonda Rossman — ex-husband of the defendant's twin brother Tim Supino — established a March 2, 1982 timeline of events for the defense. Tim and Terri Supino drove her blue Chevy Chevette to the CDR around 11 p.m. the night of the murders, Rossman said. The witness testified the siblings returned to Carlo Supino Jr.'s home around midnight, did not have blood on their clothing and were not acting out of character.

She told jurors she did not notice Tim or Terri Supino take extra clothes or a bag with them to visit Fisher at the CDR. Police searched her vehicle by 9 p.m. March 3, 1983, Rossman said, and found nothing. The witness also testified she saw nothing out of place and no blood in the car after leaving Carlo Supino Jr.'s home that night.

The defense recalled Jasper County Jailer Lisa Vos Wednesday, after her Feb. 5 testimony on behalf of the state. Vos said she has become quite familiar with Supino since her March 2014 incarceration. Co-defense attorney Steve Addington had only on for the jailer: "Can Terri Supino be a sarcastic person?"

"Sometimes, yes," Vos said.

For updates and archived stories on the Copper Dollar Ranch murders, go to newtondailynews.com, follow @NewtonDNews on Twitter and Facebook and see full recaps of trial-related events from Waterloo in the Newton Daily News print edition.

Contact Mike Mendenhall at mmendenhall@newtondailynews.com

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