Payson Mayor Ken Murphy's domestic violence trial took a surprise turn on the first day when his fiance's oldest daughter recanted her statement to police about the incident.
Devon Leckliter, daughter of Julie Foster (who recently changed her name from Barcom to her maiden name), told the court on Thursday that she exaggerated Murphy's behavior in her statement because she was mad at both the mayor and her mother. In that statement made on Nov. 10, the day Murphy was arrested, she had described the mayor yelling "at the top of his lungs," being "heavily intoxicated," throwing shoes, and generally being "in a rage."
"When I did that statement, I was mad at them because they made me come home early from a wedding (the evening before)," Leckliter said. "Most of what I said is exaggeration because I was mad."
Leckliter, 18, and a full-time student at Gila Community College, was 17 at the time of the incident. She explained that after not speaking to Murphy and her mother for seven months following the incident, they have recently reconciled.
During cross examination, Leckliter told Murphy's attorney, Harlan Green, that she had done a lot of growing up since the incident occurred. She answered, "Yes," when Green asked her if she was "here to straighten things out."
Both Leckliter and Foster testified that they felt pressured by police to expand their statements about the incident.
"I was pushed in there (a room at the police station) and a piece of paper was shoved at me," Leckliter said. "Everybody was writing statements."
Foster, who testified later in the day, told the court she added more to her statement when police officers asked her to. "Officers (Donny) Garvin and (Henry) Thomason pressured me to write more," Foster said. "I tried to tell them it was just an argument."
Foster once again said much of the blame for the incident should be placed on her rather than Murphy, and that she never should have called 911.
"I was being a bitch," she said. "I had been a bitch the whole day.
"I wasn't thinking rationally the whole day. I was pretty much out of control."
The argument between Murphy and Foster began on Saturday, Nov. 9. It continued the following morning and Foster finally called 911 at 12:30 p.m. to report that Murphy had thrown her clothes outside and to request "an escort to get my stuff out."
Police responded and eventually charged Murphy with disorderly conduct/domestic violence and intimidating/domestic violence. He spent that Sunday night in the Gila County jail.
Others who testified Thursday included Foster's parents, Marian Foster and Gerald; her other children, Joey Doane, 10, and Alexis Leckliter, 14; her nephew, Zach Wilson, 9; and a close friend, Julia Jewell. All were present at one time or another during the incident.
The trial is expected to conclude today (Friday) following the testimony of several police officers who responded to Foster's call.
Deputy Gila County attorneys Bryan Chambers and Robert Standage are prosecuting the case. Judge pro tem John Perlman of Globe is presiding over the trial in Payson Justice Court.
Murphy still faces charges related to an altercation at the Ox Bow Saloon during August Doin's last year, with that trial currently scheduled for Oct. 9.