LEBANON, Mo. (AP) — A suburban Kansas City attorney has been found not guilty of killing her millionaire father and his girlfriend in a vicious attack at their Missouri lake house that prosecutors said was fueled by jealousy, even though jurors said they doubted her innocence.
Susan “Liz” Van Note, 48, of Lee’s Summit, was acquitted Tuesday night of two counts of first-degree murder in the 2010 deaths of 67-year-old William Van Note and 59-year-old Sharon Dickson, The Kansas City Star (http://bit.ly/2kx1VdE ) reports.
Dickson died at the couple’s Lake of the Ozarks vacation house after being stabbed and shot. William Van Note was also stabbed and shot, but he survived and was taken to a Columbia hospital. Prosecutors say Susan Van Note subsequently forged her father’s signature on power of attorney documents so she could authorize his removal from the ventilator that was keeping him alive.
Jury foreman Merri Hess said the panel felt Van Note, who specialized in end-of-life matters, was involved but that they couldn’t convict her on the evidence presented.
“‘Not guilty’ does not mean innocent,” Hess said.
Authorities allege Susan Van Note had filed for bankruptcy and was angry that her father had named Dickson to inherit the bulk of his estate, which had a net worth in 2009 of nearly $8 million. After his death, his daughter assumed the role of the estate’s executor.
Lead prosecutor Kevin Zoellner described Van Note in his closing argument as a “terrible killer” who “used her mouth to tell the hospital to kill” her father. He said a call from Van Note’s cellphone to her home pinged a tower near the crime scene minutes after the attack.
Her attorneys pointed to another man, who has since disappeared, as the killer. No hair, blood, DNA or fibers linked Van Note to the crime scene.
Susan Van Note’s mother, Barbara Van Note, told investigators that her daughter was home in Lee’s Summit when the killings happened 119 miles away in Sunrise Beach. Barbara Van Note went to prison in 2005 for forging her own mother’s name to a power of attorney, and she was ordered to repay $108,000 to a trust fund.
The trial initially was to have been in June 2015, but a mistrial was declared. A second attempt at the proceedings two months later ended when Susan Van Note’s lawyers challenged the admissibility of cellphone evidence.
Dickson’s son, Andrew Dickson, has a wrongful death case pending against Susan Van Note.
Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com