Housewife Finishes Self-Defense in Murder Trial

A suburban housewife serving as her own attorney at her murder trial insisted in closing arguments that she was being framed, and had no choice but to kill her husband in self defense.

Susan Polk, 48, is accused of stabbing 70-year-old Felix Polk in October 2002 at the couple's Orinda home, about 15 miles east of San Francisco. Prosecutors allege the motive was her husband's multimillion-dollar estate.

Closing arguments were scheduled to finish Tuesday.

"This trial has become a witch trial," said Polk, standing in front of a life-size portrait of herself as a 14-year-old that she displayed to show how young she was when she met her husband while he was her therapist.

But prosecutor Paul Sequeira urged jurors to convict her of first-degree murder, saying she had testified for 17 hours and 25 minutes but talked about what happened the night of the slaying for less than an hour.

"You know why?" Sequeira asked the jurors. "It's hard to keep track of how many stories she's told. The truth is not hard to remember."

The trial, now in its 14th week in Contra Costa County Superior Court, has been marked by the defendant's outbursts, surreal testimony about soothsaying and apocalyptic visions, and squabbles with two sons who testified against her.

While on the stand, Polk has discussed secret government experiments, psychic powers and the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. She claimed she could have thwarted the World Trade Center attacks if her husband hadn't prevented her from alerting authorities.

Polk also has testified to beatings and abuse by her husband. She told jurors her husband was violent and had a dismissive attitude toward women, saying she was kept isolated from others and that her husband viewed sex as "essentially rape."

She testified that she was able to wrest a kitchen knife away from her husband when he attacked her and stabbed him in self-defense.

But Sequeira argued Monday that a reasonable person who studied the evidence couldn't conclude that Polk had managed to take the knife from her husband during a violent struggle without cutting her hands and getting injured.

"Dr. Polk was fighting for his life. That's evident in all the pictures. Is that what you see with the defendant?" he asked jurors.

During her closing arguments, Polk said she was being railroaded because people in power thought she was delusional. "Am I on trial for saying I predicted the 9-11 terror attacks or am I on trial for murder?" she asked the jury.

A judge has ruled she is competent to stand trial.

Polk told jurors that even if they concluded she was as "crazy as a bedbug," the evidence still showed that she killed her husband in self-defense and that the crime scene was altered to impugn her.

"Even if you think I do have delusions that isn't a reason to excuse my husband's conduct," Polk said.