Utah homicide trial focuses on alleged emotional distress
Provo • When Tracy A. Scott called 911 on the evening of March 23, 2013, his voice was flat and calm. No emotion was conveyed as he told a dispatcher what had just happened inside his Salem home.
"My wife is shot," Scott told a dispatcher.
"Who shot her?" the dispatcher asked.
"Is she awake?" the dispatcher asked.
"No, she’s dead," Scott replied.
The recorded 911 call was the first piece of evidence presented to a jury Tuesday, the first day of trial for Scott — who is accused of shooting and killing his wife that March night.
During opening statements in 4th District Court, Deputy Utah County Attorney Lance Bastian asked the jurors to note the "flat emotion" and "tone" in Scott’s voice.
"It wasn’t until [a police officer] placed the handcuffs on him that there was a flood of emotion from Mr. Scott," Bastian told the jury.
Scott’s emotions and state of mind when he allegedly shot and killed Teresa Scott will be a major focus of the trial.
Prosecutors said he showed no emotion after pulling the trigger and shooting his wife three times. But defense attorney Richard Gale told the jury that "extreme emotional distress" is what caused his client to snap and kill the woman.
"[Prosecutors] are going to be able to prove that Tracy killed his wife, Teresa," Gale told the jury. "The real issue is, what crime is it? What should it be?"
Scott, 48, is charged with first-degree felony murder. But Gale said he hopes the jury will convict his client on the lesser crime of second-degree felony manslaughter.
Gale told jurors that Scott and his 45-year-old wife had known each other for 25 years — and many of those years were spent fighting with one another.
"Everyone who knew them, knew that’s just what they do," he said. "They fight."
Friends and family urged them to get a divorce, Gale said. But things had been getting better until weeks before the shooting when the couple began arguing about finances and other issues.
The day before the shooting, Gale said his client called his mother, afraid.
"He said, ‘Mom, I’m afraid. The gun safe is open and a gun is missing, and I think Teresa is going to kill me,’ " Gale said.