Both sides set the stage Tuesday in the murder trial of Iowa man Todd Mullis. Prosecutors say he killed his wife Amy Mullis last November using a corn rake, and attempted to pass it off as a farm accident. The defense is acknowledging that this was indeed a homicide, but say their client didn’t do it.
Assistant Attorney General Maureen Hughes went up first for the state. She relied on details largely already conveyed in a probable cause statement. Todd Mullis stabbed Amy Mullis in the back with a rake, then left her to die on the floor in a shed on their hog farm, said the prosecutor.
Both sides agree the path leading up to the death was tumultuous.
“Amy was not happy,” said Hughes. The victim was having a second affair, and was planning on leaving her husband, the prosecutor said. The defendant knew about the affair back on July 2018 at the latest, and while Amy denied it, there was still a lot of tension and distrust.
Prosecutors believe Todd Mullis killed his wife because he didn’t want her to take half of his farm.
“Being a farmer means everything to him,” Hughes said, explaining that the defendant came from a family of farmers.
On the day of the murder, he isolated the victim, and killed her, said the state. He used the corn rake to make it seem like an accident, left the scene, and pretending that nothing was wrong, sent out their 13-year-old son to discover Amy Mullis, said Hughes. The defendant told 911 that the victim fell on a rake. He expected people to feel sorry for him, and not ask questions, said the prosecution.
But people did ask questions. Doctors determined Amy Mullis was attacked at least two times with the corn rake. There’s evidence the victim told friends and family that she planned to leave Todd, but worried he might kill her if he discovered the affair, said Hughes.
The defendant also did Internet searches in the months before his wife’s death, looking up how to kill “unfaithful women.”
Defense lawyer Gerald Feuerhelm point-blank said that Amy Mullis’ death was indeed a murder. Evidence would show that his client didn’t do it, he said. The defendant’s claim that the victim died in an accident was a mistaken, on-the-spot attempt to explain the incident, said the attorney.
Amy Mullis was out on the farm that day despite having recently had a medical procedure, he said. It was her idea to be out there. She insisted on helping out on the hog farm. Both Todd Mullis and the son noticed she seemed dizzy and lost her balance at once point, said Feuerhelm. The defendant recommended she go back into the house, but she wanted to help, said the defense.
Feuerhelm also highlighted the “significant sexual affair” that Amy Mullis was having with another man, who was often on the premises as part of his job to service hog farmers. Todd Mullis did learn about it, and confronted this individual over the phone, but the man denied the affair allegation. The defense insists that Todd Mullis was focused on continuing to work on maintaining the marriage.
Note: An earlier version of the article misidentified the prosecutor as Denise Timmins.
[Screengrab via Law&Crime Network]