Thrice-widowed, on trial in death of husband No. 2

2016-08-11 07:06
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New Orleans  — It took more than seven years after Ernest Smith, 38, died outside his New Orleans home, until his widow was arrested and charged in his death, but she had been on police radar early on.

"Please be advised that the beneficiary, Emma Smith, wife of the deceased, cannot be ruled out as a suspect in the death of Ernest Smith," a New Orleans detective wrote to an insurance investigation company in a July 12, 2006, letter.

By the time Emma Smith was arrested in that case in 2013, she had a new name, Emma Raine, and was, again, a widow. Her third husband, James Raine, 37, was shot to death at the couple's Pearl River County, Mississippi, home in 2011. Authorities had their suspicions in that case too, even though Emma Raine was out of town at the time.

"She is a suspect in that James Raine case," Pearl River County Sheriff David Allison said in a 2015 interview.

"And through investigating that case we were able to get some information that New Orleans needed and passed it on to them," Allison added.

'Greed, money and infidelity'

Opening statements began on Wednesday in Emma Raine's second-degree murder trial, where Assistant District Attorney Laura Rodrigue warned jurors the case would be complicated.

"In this particular case we are going to need diagrams," Rodrigue said in an opening statement.

No eyewitness testimony or physical evidence will link Emma Raine to the killing, Rodrigue said.

But witnesses will testify the trigger man, James Raine's adoptive brother Alfred "Terry" Everette, admitted killing Smith at the urging of Emma and James Raine, for a share of life insurance money, Rodrigue said.

She added that documents will show that Emma bumped up the value of policies on Smith over the years before his death.

Defence attorney Martin Regan's view of the case: James Raine and Terry Everette plotted Ernest Smith's death without involving Emma.

He cast the late James Raine as an opportunist who seduced Emma as she suffered through an unhappy marriage to Smith and plotted Smith's death to get her money.

"This case is about greed and money, infidelity and a guy named James," Regan said.

He stressed that Emma Raine has never been arrested in James Raine's death.

"Who kills James Raine? Was it another jealous husband?" Regan asked.

Everette was convicted of second-degree murder in December 2014 after prosecutors said he had been promised — by James and Emma Raine — $10 000 from an $800 000 life insurance benefit. His appeal is pending at the state Supreme Court.

It was unclear whether jurors will hear testimony about the death of Emma Raine's first husband, Leroy Evans, who died while hospitalised in 1994 after he was hit by a car. No arrests were ever reported in that case but, during Everette's trial, prosecutors called his death suspicious.

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