Stacey Dory says she thought she was just doing a favor for an old friend from high school.
Susan Elizabeth Van Note had told Dory and husband that her father had been shot and stabbed in a home invasion. They asked if they could do anything for her. Van Note said there was one thing, Dory testified Wednesday at Van Note’s double-murder trial.
Van Note wanted them to witness a “financial document” she and her father had been working on.
They agreed. They signed.
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“Then she stood up and said she was on her way to the hospital to see her dad,” Dory testified.
The document, Dory said she learned later, was a health directive that Van Note took to a Columbia hospital to demand that her father be removed from life support.
Authorities allege that Van Note forged the document after the October 2010 attack that critically wounded her father, William Van Note, 67, and killed his girlfriend, Sharon Dickson, 59, at the couple’s house at the Lake of the Ozarks. William Van Note died four days after the attack and hours after doctors turned off his ventilator.
On cross-examination, defense attorney Tom Bath attacked testimony from Dory and her husband, Desre Dory. Both admitted being untruthful at times during police questioning. Bath pursued a line of questioning that suggested detectives leaned on the couple to gain information about Susan Van Note, particularly her demeanor and emotional state at the hospital.
“They (investigators) suggested you were involved in the murder, right?” Bath asked Desre Dory. “And that one day she will name her accomplices.”
Yes, Dory answered.
According to Bath, detectives came up with a theory that Desre Dory was having an affair with Susan Van Note, that his car had been seen at the lake and that he had committed the crimes.
Bath also suggested that the couple was still at risk of being charged.
Van Note, 48, a Lee’s Summit lawyer who specialized in end-of-life matters, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the late-night attack on Oct. 2, 2010. Her father and Dickson were both shot and stabbed multiple times.
Stacey Dory, who was visibly shaken and cried several times on the witness stand, testified that she got a phone call from Van Note two days after the attack, asking to meet at the Dorys’ house in Shawnee.
They sat around a table and Van Note told them about the attack. Dickson was dead and her dad was in a hospital. Dory didn’t recall her being upset.
After the Dorys had signed it, Stacey Dory went with Van Note to the hospital in Columbia.
At the hospital, Dory testified, Van Note began over-the-top crying. When the doctor came in, she completely changed.
“She got up and started yelling at the doctor to take him off life support,” Dory said. “She just kept pushing him and he said there was nothing he could do.”
On Oct. 19, two Shawnee police officers and two Camden County detectives came to the Dorys’ house. They had the document, which had been dated 2009.
“We’re 99 percent sure this is forged and it’s what killed Bill Van Note,” Desre Dory quoted the detectives as saying.
He lied, telling the detectives that William Van Note was present when they signed.
Prosecutor Kevin Zoellner on Wednesday asked if he regretted that.
“More than anything, sir,” Dory said.
The day after the police visit, their attorney told them to cut off contact with Van Note. Stacey Dory testified that Van Note made repeated efforts to call her.
“I hung up on her,” she said about that day.
That night, Desre Dory said he was watching TV when he noticed a figure at the basement window.
“It was Liz,” he testified.
He printed out a note that said they could not talk to her and gave it to her. She put her foot in the door so he could not close it, he testified.
The Dorys initially were charged as accomplices, but prosecutors in 2013 dismissed second-degree murder and forgery charges against them.
A prosecutor Wednesday asked Stacey Dory if she still considered Van Note a friend.
“No,” Dory said.
Prosecutors allege that Van Note wanted to get her hands on her father’s millions because of her financial problems and because she was angry that he had named Dickson to receive the bulk of his estate.
In September 2012, a grand jury indicted Van Note for both murders and forgery. Investigators had seized her laptop from her Kansas City law office and found the health directive for her father filed under the name of a woman who hired Van Note to prepare the same kind of document for her.
Defense attorneys have countered that prosecutors have no forensic evidence that puts Van Note in her father’s Lake of the Ozarks at the time of the crime.
The trial is expected to continue into next week.
Donald Bradley: 816-234-4182