With a jury selection date set for Oct. 16 and a flurry of motions filed in a Texas courtroom, the murder trial of a San Angelo veterinarian accused of poisoning her husband, Lee, Maine, native Michael Leslie Severance, is getting under way after almost two years since his disappearance.
Judge Tom Gossett of the 51st Judicial District Court of Tom Green County postponed rulings on defense motions seeking transfer of the trial from San Angelo to Odessa and the dismissal of almost all evidence gathered since an Air Force investigator placed a tracking device on Wendi Mae Davidson’s car.
In the transfer motions, Davidson, who has pleaded not guilty to the charges, herself signed a sworn affidavit claiming that a local Texas newspaper and two local TV news stations have generated publicity over her case that “has been pervasive, prejudicial and inflammatory.”
“The population of this community has been saturated with negative information regarding my case,” Davidson said in documents released Wednesday by court officials. They counted 65 stories aired or written on the murder since Air Force investigators began investigating the disappearance of Severance, an Air Force staff sergeant who grew up in Lee and went missing Jan. 15, 2005, by placing the tracking device on her car.
“I feel a powerful conspiracy exists against me with the San Angelo Police Department, Texas Rangers” and other members of the law enforcement community who investigated the murder, Davidson added.
Gossett responded by cautioning both sides against talking to the media.
Jury selection was due to begin March 20, but was pushed back several times when judges granted defense attorney requests for more time.
Davidson, 28, is charged with using drugs normally used to euthanize animals to poison Severance, 24, and stabbing his body 41 times before dumping it in a San Angelo pond owned by a family friend, landowner Terrell Sheen, on Jan. 15, 2005.
She also is charged with trying to destroy records pertaining to the drugs.
Davidson was arrested March 5, 2005, a day before the body was found, after allegedly telling her brother Marshall Davidson that she had found her husband dead early Jan. 15 and buried him because she feared another family member had killed him. Grand jury charges followed in May. She is free on bail.
Severance was stationed at Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene, Texas, at the time of his death and lived in San Angelo with his wife at her veterinary clinic.
The change-of-venue motion was filed Monday, five days after her attorney, Fred C. Brigman III, filed a motion claiming that investigators failed to get federal or state court permission to track Davidson in the weeks immediately after Severance’s disappearance, nullifying evidence – including the discovery of the body – that led to Davidson’s arrest on the murder and evidence-tampering charges.
On Monday, Assistant District Attorney Allison Palmer filed a response to the evidence suppression motion claiming that investigators complied with Air Force procedures and Supreme Court precedents in placing the tracking device.