Susan Van Note and close family cried as they heard the verdict releasing her fear of imprisonment for the shooting and stabbing deaths of William Van Note and Sharon Dickson.
Susan Van Note is not guilty — so said the jury in her trial for the double homicide of her father William Van Note and his girlfriend Sharon Dickson. The seven women and five men of the Laclede County jury reached their verdict of not guilty on two counts each of first and second degree murder at approximately 6:30 p.m. Feb. 14.
The decision on the charges from the Oct. 2, 2010 attacks that killed two people came on the eighth day of the trial after the sequestered jury of 12 heard from forensic experts, friends of the family, financial advisors and police. Though they did not hear direct testimony from the defendant herself, jurors heard nearly three hours of interviews between investigators and Susan Van Note in the days after the attack. It was that evidence and the 911 call by William Van Note to Morgan County Dispatch that the jury asked to hear again as it went into deliberations Tuesday.
The jury deliberated about four hours before reaching its decision, after hearing closing statements earlier Tuesday as well as instructions from Judge Kenneth Hayden.
Susan Van Note and close family cried as they heard the verdict releasing her from fear of imprisonment for the shooting and stabbing deaths of William Van Note and Sharon Dickson. The Dickson family appeared stoic and reaction-less in the face of the verdict.
Sharon Dickson was a victim of three gunshot wounds and 18 stab wounds, dying from extensive bleeding at the scene, while William Van Note initially survived three gunshot wounds — including a shot to his head — and a stab wound to the back before he was taken off life support by his next-of-kin — Susan Van Note. The couple who also had homes in Florida and Kansas City were killed at their lakefront home in the Sunrise Beach area.
Susan Van Note was arrested for their deaths in 2012.
After the prosecution rested its case Friday— which relied heavily on financial motive and a ping on a Sunrise Beach cell tower from Susan Van Note’s phone around the time of the attacks — the defense team for Susan Van Note worked to raise reasonable doubt about the charges levied against the Lee’s Summit woman.
Attorney Tom Bath did most of the questioning Saturday and Monday for the defense as they brought forth witnesses and documents that raised the specter of other possible suspects and forensic evidence that didn’t conclusively put the defendant at the scene while bringing a family friend of William’s who corroborated Susan Van Note’s explanation of family dynamics and William’s wishes about life support.
Part of the case was tied to Susan Van Note having her father taken off life support while at University Hospital in Columbia, forging a Durable Power of Attorney in the aftermath of the attacks though ultimately it was her status as next-of-kin that allowed her to make that decision rather than the DPOA.
Lake Media editor Amy Wilson contributed to this story.