EUGENE, Ore. — A landlady who was killed in her home nearly two years ago suffered 55 stabbing and slashing wounds in what a prosecutor has called “an unimaginably brutal murder” committed by her tenant.
The landlady, 59-year-old Kathy Braun, suffered injuries from the top of her head to the bottom of her feet, Lane County prosecutors Erik Hasselman said in his opening statement at the murder trial of Howard Stull.
Some of Braun’s wounds were defensive and “consistent with her trying to stave off a knife assailant,” Hasselman said,
Stull, now 80, was arrested after Braun was found dead July 23, 2015 inside the garage of her home.
Stull plans to testify in his own defense to try to prove he acted in self-defense, said his lawyer, Marc Friedman.
Stull “was assaulted by Kathy Braun, and he managed to turn that knife around,” Friedman said. “And yes, he stabbed her.”
Friedman characterized the prosecution’s case as “conjecture, speculation and assumptions.”
The Register-Guard reported (https://is.gd/3r2GuL) that Stull has a number of previous convictions and spent time in state prison after a 2007 theft case. Friedman told jurors his client is rough and uses vile language, but is not violent.
Willie Graham, who was dating the victim, testified after opening statements that Braun phoned him shortly before she died and asked him to come home. Braun said she had a problem but didn’t say what it was.
Graham said he encountered Stull near the doorway to a garage bedroom where Stull had been living for several months.
Graham said Stull told him that Braun had gone to a neighbor’s home. Graham went there but returned to Braun’s house a short time later and found her body face-down in a pool of blood. By that time, Stull was gone, Graham said.
Graham testified that Braun had wanted Stull to move out.
She had done online research and discovered Stull’s criminal background.
Just hours before her death, she told Graham that she planned to inform Stull of a rent increase, hoping that would get him to leave.
Information from: The Register-Guard, http://www.registerguard.com