(KTVI) – Is the wrong man behind bars for murder? The attorney for Russ Faria says he`s about to file an appeal.
Joel Schwartz said, “Every day that this man stays in jail is a travesty of justice. He’s an innocent man confined in prison right now.”
Schwartz is the defense attorney for Russ Faria. A Lincoln County jury sentenced Faria to life in prison for the stabbing death of his wife Betsy. Schwartz said, “The jury didn’t get the opportunity to view what the public has now seen and I can’t imagine given the fact that this man had four alibi witnesses in addition to three alibi video tapes and his cell phone all confirmed he was 45 minutes away at the time of death, that anyone could possibly imagine he did it.”
Now we’re hearing more about the changing stories from Betsy Faria`s friend Pam Hupp, the designated beneficiary of Betsy`s $150,000 life insurance policy. That policy was signed over to Hupp, days before the murder. Detectives asked Hupp about it. She explained to police that Betsy told her, “I want my kids to have it.”
Betsy’s daughters Leah and Maria never got the money. So they’re suing Hupp for the insurance proceeds. In a recent civil deposition, Hupp now says, “It was my money.”
Hupp drove Betsy Faria home the night she was killed. Lincoln County Judge Chris Kunza Mennemeyer barred a jury from hearing about the money, ruling that it was not relevant. Before the trial, police told Hupp why the money was a problem for their case against Russ.
In another recorded interview in July 2012, Lincoln County Detective Ryan McCarrick told Hupp, “(You) now have this money and have not turned any of it over to the family. That`s a huge problem. Betsy told you to hold on to this money to make sure the kids are taken care of yet they haven`t seen a dime of that money. You still have it.’
Just before trial, Hupp said she put 2/3rds of the money into a trust for the girls, after pressure from prosecutors and the Missouri Attorney General`s office.
Attorney Joel Schwartz added, “The pressure was to make the case look better against Russ, frankly because there was no evidence against him.”
Hupp told police and testified at the Faria murder trial to Assistant Attorney General Richard Hicks’ question, “(Betsy’s) purpose was to try to assure that (the money) got to the girls?” Hupp testified, “That’s correct.”
The testimony was taken during trial, but in a secret hearing in which the jury was removed. Hupp described putting $100,000 in a trust for the daughters and the remaining $50,000 Hupp testified “…my other girlfriend died of breast cancer… and she has a 12-year-old daughter that I’m trying to help.”
The Assistant A.G. asked, “Are you using that money for that?”
Hupp testified, “Yes.”
Now Hupp’s story has changed. In a civil deposition July of 2014, an attorney asked, “Did you ever tell anyone you gave $150,000 to a family?”
Hupp said, “No.”
The attorney followed up, “You never told anyone that?”
Hupp answered, “I told them I was contemplating it.”
The inconsistencies do not surprise attorney Schwartz, who says he’s hoping a new jury will finally hear it. Schwartz said, “The appeal is virtually done and we should be filing it in the next couple weeks.”
He says he does not believe the prosecutor will look into Hupp’s changing story. He said, “It’s clearly out there and if the prosecutor hasn’t been following this she’s covering her ears and closing her eyes. It’s there and if she chooses to do so she can. And frankly she should.”
Lincoln County Prosecutor Leah Askey e-mailed a short response, which states in full, “According to RSMO 575.040, I haven’t seen any evidence of perjury as it pertains to my case. Please let me know if you have specific examples that I might have missed.”