Published: January 22, 2014
An El Paso County woman on trial for murder told a jury Wednesday that she shot her husband 19 times in self-defense after he flew into a rage over pie crumbs.
Donna Raylene Anderson, 58, said William "Bill" Coffey, 52, was "going to kill" her and possibly her 87-year-old mother after discovering that two pies he baked for dinner "had been dug into" and that crumbs were left on the counter.
"Mother loved pies," Anderson said through tears after breaking down on the stand. "My beautiful mother, my Christian mother."
Anderson - also known as Kaiser-Anderson - is charged with first-degree murder and faces life in prison if convicted in the January 2013 killing at the Springs Mobile Home Park east of Colorado Springs. Sheriff's investigators say she shot her husband - and stopped to reload - during a clash in the trailer they shared with her mother, Dorothy Thompson, who was found dead inside along with Coffey.
In a twist, an El Paso County deputy coroner testified at trial that an autopsy determined the elderly woman died of natural causes.
During her testimony, Anderson said she last saw her mother alive when Coffey was pulling her by her arms into a bedroom, dragging her walker behind them.
To defend the woman, she said she ran to another room and grabbed a 9 mm pistol her husband had given her as a gift.
After loading it as he had instructed her, she said she faced off with her husband over access to the phone so that she could summon help for her mother.
"I was petrified. I was terrified. I was so, so scared."
She said she opened fire when Coffey "lunged" at her, and that after he collapsed in a pool of blood, she went to check on her mother and discovered that she had died.
Anderson said her husband was storming through the trailer on "a tyrant's rant" in which he threatened to "skin (her) alive" and told how he previously threatened to "hang me from a tree and pour acid on me - that was one of his favorite ones."
The woman cried frequently throughout her testimony, and veered into eccentricity as she turned from describing the gruesome scene in her trailer to her love of journaling - "my life's work," she called it.
Anderson said she met Coffey at a Colorado Springs bar in January 2012 while she was working for an "up-and-coming wine distributor out of Denver."
The two married Feb. 6, 2012, she said, describing how they bonded over their shared suspicions of the government and Coffey's talk of owning 60 acres in Arkansas to which he would retreat and live in underground bunkers come "doomsday."
"It fascinated me," she told jurors.
The defense case is expected to continue at 9 a.m. Thursday.