Trial Begins for 'How to Murder Your Husband' Writer

Nancy Crampton Brophy's trial is expected to last 7 weeks
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 6, 2022 8:54 AM CDT
'How to Murder Your Husband' Writer on Trial for That Very Thing
Nancy Crampton Brophy, left, accused of killing her husband Dan Brophy in June of 2018, listens to her trial with the help of headphones in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, April 5, 2022.   (Dave Killen/The Oregonian via AP, Pool)

That a novelist who once wrote an essay titled "How to Murder Your Husband" was accused of doing that very thing led to a sea of headlines in 2018. More than three years later, Nancy Crampton Brophy is on trial in the June 2, 2018, death of husband Daniel Brophy. But as KGW reports, a judge on Monday ruled the essay couldn't be used as evidence, citing its age, that it was written for a writing seminar, and its prejudicial nature. More on the trial in Oregon's Multnomah County Circuit Court:

  • The accusation: Chef Daniel Brophy, 63, was shot dead at the Oregon Culinary Institute early one morning while preparing for the workday. There were no security cameras, and nothing was stolen from Brophy. His wife was arrested that September; traffic cameras allegedly captured her minivan in the area at the right time. Senior Deputy DA Shawn Overstreet says she would have had 13 minutes to carry out the murder.

  • The alleged motive. Overstreet alleges money was at the root of things, saying that between life insurance, worker's comp, and home equity, Crampton Brophy would have gained more than $1 million. "Well over a thousand dollars a month was being paid into [life insurance] policies at a time when they were struggling to pay their mortgage," he alleged.
  • The defense. Defense attorney Lisa Maxfield countered that her client's financial situation actually worsened, as she wasn't on the deed to the couple's home and she was so distraught she couldn't return to work. She explained the insurance policies by saying Crampton Brophy had worked in insurance policy sales at various times and purchased them to show her faith in the product and because she was incentivized to do so, reports the Oregonian. And the big reason why she didn't do it, per Maxfield? Love.
  • The gun. The allegations are pretty involved, so it's best to read KGW's take for the nitty-gritty, but all sides agree Crampton Brophy did buy a Glock pistol at a gun show (her lawyer says it was for research). It's known that she also bought a slide and barrel. Prosecutors accuse her of switching the parts to thwart the forensic investigation.
  • Tuesday testimony. Clarinda Perez, the student who first found Brophy's body, took the stand. KOIN reports she said she was working as a medical assistant and immediately began CPR. She didn't realize he had been shot and said she saw no blood initially. Sobbing, she said, "His chest was really squishy and I thought I had broken a rib because as I continued to do compressions, my hands started getting full of blood."
  • More background. Crampton Brophy, who also wrote 2015's The Wrong Husband—which tells of a woman who escapes her abusive spouse and falls in love with another man—previously described how her life inspired her fiction on her website. "You dig deep and unearth portions of your own life that you've long forgotten or had purposely buried deep," she wrote, adding that "my stories are ... about the joy of finding love and the difficulty of making it stay."
  • Details. The trial is slated to last seven weeks, and Crampton Brophy is expected to take the stand.
(More murder stories.)

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