Daughter of slain woman testifies she feared for her life

By By Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
Feb. 8, 2001
The daughter of slain Mary Ann Woolf testified Wednesday she feared for her life as Mary Ann Adams drove her through backroads in the early morning hours of June 7, 1998 in search for her missing mother.
Andrea Jupe Franklin also testified she suspected Adams had killed her mother, and that she had no knowledge of her mother's life insurance policy which designated Adams as beneficiary.
Adams' trial opened Monday in Lauderdale County Circuit Court before Judge Larry Roberts. Adams and her brother, John Barrett, are accused of the June 1998 murder of Woolf, whose body was discovered in a shallow creek in what appeared to be a bizarre car accident. The pair are accused of killing Woolf, Adams' best friend and co-worker, then staging a car accident to collect Woolf's $200,000 life insurance policy, which carried a double indemnity for accidental death.
Also testifying was Barbara Robinson of Quitman, who said she went with her friend, Donna Todd, to Adams' home to "sit by the phone" while Adams went to search for Woolf with Woolf's daughter.
Robinson said when Adams returned home with Woolf's daughter, she phoned police then made several statements that Woolf "may be found down a dirt road" and "they would probably find alcohol in her system."
Prosecutors then called Maj. Steve Spears, head of the East Mississippi Drug Task Force, who took part in the death investigation. Spears testified that Barrett denied knowing Woolf during an informal conversation they had about a week after the murder.
Earlier testimony in the trial revealed Barrett's fingerprints were discovered on Woolf's car at the time her body was found.
Prosecutors also called State Investigator Danny Knight, who told jurors Woolf's car did not appear to have been in an accident since there was no damage to the car.
Knight was also questioned about a 1991 life insurance policy taken out by Adams on her friend, Sharon B. Walters. Prosecutors say Walters is expected to testify that she was severely injured in a 1992 train/car collision after being offered a drink by Adams.
Knight also testified that when he arrived on the 1998 accident scene on Hookston Road, he found Woolf's body clad in a shirt and pants. The shirt had been pulled above her breasts and her pants had been pulled partially down, he said.
Defense Attorney Charles Wright questioned Knight about Adams' Miranda rights and if he thought it was trickery to have the insurance agent, who wrote Woolf's policy, call Adams and record the conversation.
Knight told Wright he viewed the action as an "investigative tool."
The trial is expected to conclude Friday.
Marianne Todd is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at mtodd@themeridianstar.com.

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