Mrs. Maxwell, 44, has pleaded not guilty to shooting her 46-year-old 10th husband, Gordon Lynn Maxwell, Aug. 30. Although his burned body was found in a pickup outside the couple's Ore City-area home, testimony established that an autopsy showed he died of “homicidal violence,” including multiple gunshot wounds.
On the trial's first day of testimony Tuesday, the 115th District Court jury heard a 911 tape of Mrs. Maxwell reporting that her husband's truck was on fire and that she didn't know his whereabouts.
But Wednesday, the state presented a March 6 interview in which the defendant told investigators that she was in the kitchen when she heard several gunshots, and that she went to a bedroom, where she found her husband dead in bed with blood on his head and her relative standing.
The relative came through the kitchen before the shooting, she said. Asked if she saw him holding the gun in the bedroom, Mrs. Maxwell said, “I wasn't paying attention to that. I don't know if he still had it in his hand.”
She said she did not ask him why he shot her husband. However, she said she picked up the weapon, which she said was her husband's .22-caliber pistol, and that she attempted to hide it in the attic. (Officers have recovered no such weapon linked to the crime).
Mrs. Maxwell said she and the relative were crying and upset and she didn't know what to do. She said she told him to put a bag around the body and that she dragged the corpse off the bed.
After hearing a “whoosh,” she said, she called 911.
Mrs. Maxwell said the relative had “been through so much” with medical problems; that he'd just been released from a hospital; and that he was taking “all kinds of medications.”
“I don't believe (the relative) is a murderer,” Mrs. Maxwell told the investigators with her attorney, Matthew Patton, present. “I guess I was trying to save (the relative).”
Mrs. Maxwell, a former Upshur County jailer, also told officers on the tape that, “Gordon told me one time he was gonna shoot (the relative) if he saw him coming down the driveway.” She said her husband, who was a minister, had stipulated that if (the relative) lived with the Maxwells, he would have to attend church every time the doors opened.
The relative did not accept that, and it was “like a tension there” between the two men, Mrs. Maxwell said. She said her husband told her to have the relative talk to his brother because Maxwell did not want the relative living at the Maxwell home any longer.
Upshur County Sheriff's Investigator David Cruce, who questioned Mrs. Maxwell on the day of the slaying and again March 6, testified Wednesday that he thought she was telling him multiple lies in the Aug. 30 interview. He said she paused considerably before answering questions, and that he saw no tears or emotion.
Cruce said the relative agreed to be interviewed and that he knew nothing about what had gone on in the house that day. Mrs. Maxwell had awakened him, Cruce testified.
The relative was never arrested for any involvement in the homicide, Cruce added. He is not a suspect in the crime, Upshur County District Attorney Billy Byrd said. Byrd is lead prosecutor in the case.
Gordon Maxwell's brother, Chris Maxwell, testified Wednesday he was passing by his brother's home by coincidence Aug. 30 when he saw the truck on fire. He said he pulled into the home and found Mrs. Maxwell with “a towel around her head like she had just got out of the shower.”
Chris Maxwell testified the relative was wearing pajama bottoms, shirtless, and shoeless. “He appeared upset,” confused, and acted “like he was still trying to wake up,” the witness testified.
Earlier Wednesday, testimony concerning the autopsy on Maxwell revealed he had been shot once in the forehead and three times in the left side of the head.
Testimony resumes at 9 a.m. today in Judge Lauren Parish's court.