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Witness interview: Dale King, Oxtales assistant director

Thursday, March 14, 10 a.m.

The witness, identified as the assistant director of Oxtales Theatre, came to the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department with attorney Rex Mickles, former assistant district attorney, now in private practice. The interview was conducted by Det. Sam Murphy and Det. Ted Armstrong, and was recorded on a portable tape recorder with the witness's knowledge and consent.

TA = Detective T. Armstrong
SM = Detective S. Murphy
DK = Dale King
RM = Rex Mickles

TA: The record will show that Mr. Dale King voluntarily appeared at the Yoknapatawpha Sheriff's Office accompanied by his attorney, Rex Mickles, and he wishes to make a voluntary statement. Will you please state your name and address for the record?

DK: Dale King. 2162 S. Lamar St. Oxford, Mississippi.

TA: I understand you wish to make a statement, is that correct?

DK: Y-yes. I guess so.

TA: I thought you had definitely decided you wanted to volunteer a statement about the death of Andrea Stover.

DK: But that's just it. I didn't kill her! I had no part in her death at the Oxford Centre. I didn't even know she was going there.

SM: It's okay, Mr. King. Just take your time and tell us what you want us to know. We're here to listen.

DK: I know you found some rhubarb leaves in the back of my pantry. I admit I made some rhubarb bars with the leaves in them and gave them to Andrea the night of the potluck. I know rhubarb leaves are poisonous so I dried some, then ground them up and put them in the bars without nuts that I made especially for her.

SM: Were you hoping to poison her, Mr. King?

DK: Yes -- I'll admit I'd had it with the wreckage she was making of Oxtales. I couldn't stand by and let her do that again. It took so much work to heal the mess she made with "Snopes" and now she wanted to do it again with "Trees" -- and stupid Owen was going to let her. I should have poisoned him too. RM: Careful, Dale. I know you want to clear this up, but I caution you not to say too much. And don't say anything you don't want to be in the record.

DK: I'm so sick of this whole mess. I gave Andrea the rhubarb bars with the leaves in them, but I didn't kill her!

SM: But you wanted her dead, didn't you? And you intended for the rhubarb bars to poison her.

DK: Okay, yes but she was alive when she went to Oxford Centre. So I did not kill her. Someone else beat me to it. And besides, I know now, I couldn't have killed her with the dosage I gave her.

TA: Unfortunately, Mr. King, the intent was there. You'll probably have to face attempted murder charges.

DK: I know, I know, I understand that. But I had nothing to do with her falling and dying. I could never resort to that kind of violence. And won't it count for something that I came in voluntarily?

SM: We'll have to see what the District Attorney says about that, Mr. King.

TA: You don't think dying from poison is violent?

DK: No. It's not like bleeding to death.

TA: Well, that's beside the point, I guess. Tell us how you kept from poisoning the whole Oxtales bunch at the potluck.

DK: I made two batches of rhubarb bars: One with nuts for the rest of the company and one for Andrea without the nuts. Then I told them there was something extra in their batch. I didn't exactly say it, but they got the message that there was marijuana in theirs. So I didn't have any trouble getting them to stay away from Andrea's bars. They actually claimed they tasted great. I only made a few for Andrea and made a big batch for the rest of the group. I figured that way anyone who sneaked one of hers would look like they were stealing from her. I kept a close watch on her plate of bars, but no one else went near them.

SM: How did you add the leaves into the batter?

DK: I ground them up and put them in with the rhubarb.

TA: Do you remember how many you used?

DK: Probably not more than three or four. I was afraid to use too many for fear of changing the taste. And, of course, I was afraid to taste them so I had to guess.

SM: Did you want her dead, Mr. King?

DK: I just wanted her gone. I wished she'd disappear, but I knew that wasn't realistic. I just couldn't stand what she was doing to the company again. All my work was going in the toilet and Oxtales would be a laughing stock again. I just couldn't take it anymore. I had to do something.

TA: How long had you been planning her death, Mr. King?

DK: I just came up with the idea earlier that week as I was watering my indoor plant which, by the way, I hope you're taking care of now that you've impounded it.

TA: We'll be sure it survives. Go on.

DK: I remembered my Dad telling me the leaves were poisonous, so I cut a few off the plant and set them aside to dry to use for the potluck. I figured it was worth a try so I just did it. I guess I didn't really think it through. And I'm not sorry she's out of my life, but the way she died -- how horrible.

SM: Were the rhubarb leaves the only poison you used?

DK: Yes.

SM: Did you use any type of poison on Ms. Stover at any other time in her food or drink?

DK: No, I didn't.

TA: Did you decide to do this before or after you and Ms. Stover argued and she left you the note?

DK: What note?

TA: You know what we're talking about. RM: You don't have to say anything, Dale.

DK: That's okay. It's no secret Andrea and I were in serious opposition about the direction Oxtales was taking. She left me a note Monday evening after the previous week's rehearsal, saying we needed to talk.

SM: Did you?

DK: We spoke on the phone, yes, later Monday evening. We were perfectly cordial, although we didn't really come to resolution. In fact, she was essentially saying it was her way or the highway. I can't say the idea came to me at that moment, but it was shortly thereafter Tuesday or Wednesday that I set aside the leaves. RM: I wouldn't go any further, Dale. Officers, let's leave it at that for now, until my client and I have time to discuss the matter further.

TA: All right. Now Mr. King: Tell us again about your movements the night of the murder.

DK: I've told you over and over. I went to Murff's with Frank and Sheila after the rehearsal. I left around midnight and went straight home. I've talked to my brother, Rob, and he has his telephone bill. It shows that he called me at 10:25 p.m. Pacific time on January 13th and we talked for a half hour. That's 12:25 a.m. our time. He says he'll furnish the records to anyone who wants them, or they can contact the phone company to get the records. Doesn't that prove I wasn't near Oxford Centre? Anyway, after the phone call I went to bed.

TA: Do you have a cell phone, Mr. King?

DK: No, I can't afford it. I just have a regular phone at home.

SM: Do you have anything you want to add, Mr. King? Mr.Mickles? Let the record show Mr. King shook his head no. RM: Yes, for the record, I would like to reiterate that Mr. King requested to come to the sheriff's office to make a voluntary statement, and that this should be considered when any charges are contemplated.

SM: Thank you, Mr. Mickles. Nonetheless, Mr. King, we need to book you now.

DK: I understand.

End of interview10:25 a.m.

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