Tuesday, May 10, 2011 -- 10:16 AM
The witness, the ex-wife of victim #1 Robert Pruitt, was interviewed in her office at the Yoknapatawpha County District Attorney's Office. The interview was conducted by Detectives Armstrong and Murphy and was recorded on a portable tape recorder with the witness' knowledge and consent.
TA: Thanks for seeing us.
GB: I'm sorry I couldn't set something up sooner. I was out of town.
SM: Do you know why we're here today?
GB: I can only assume it's about Rob Pruitt.
GB: What can I tell you?
SM: We'll need the usual information for the record -- name and address, please.
GB: Gloria Louise Bell, 908 Old Taylor Rd.
TA: You were married to Mr. Pruitt at one point, is that right?
GB: Yes. We separated in 1999 and haven't been in touch since then. I'm not sure I'll be of much help to you.
TA: But you know Gary Rayburn, Mr. Pruitt's partner, don't you?
GB: Yes. Of course. I know almost all the lawyers in town.
TA: How often are you in touch with Mr. Rayburn?
GB: I actually didn't see him much in court. Apparently, he let Robert hog the limelight. But informally I suppose we see each other occasionally. Not lately though -- I've been out of town a lot.
TA: You see him informally?
GB: Yes. We're friends.
TA: We've heard it went farther than that.
GB: I don't care to comment.
TA: Ms. Bell, we don't have to remind you, of all people, that refusing to reveal relevant information could be construed--
GB: I just don't see how it's relevant, Detectives. Trust me on this one -- there's nothing there. Next question.
TA: Back to Mr. Pruitt, then. Why did you get a divorce?
GB: Well, a lot of reasons. He was shallow, manipulative, and materialistic, and I quickly realized it after the honeymoon was over. We were only married for eleven months. Let's call it irreconcilable differences.
TA: We found some of the divorce papers among Mr. Pruitt's effects. You managed to wring quite a settlement out of him.
GB: It may surprise you, but I do know what I'm doing from time to time.
TA: You sued him for permanent damage to your mental and physical health. That seems to go beyond irreconcilable differences.
GB: All right. Rob and I didn't want children at that stage of life. We were just getting started after law school, and frankly I was leaning toward adoption. I had ideas about population growth and sustainability. I got pregnant though. It shouldn't have happened; the birth control must have failed; it was stupid. I didn't know what to do and, before I had a chance to tell Rob, I had a miscarriage. He didn't even wait for me to get out of the hospital before chewing me out, telling me I should have quit my job to be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen and take care of the fetus. That didn't go over too well, as you can imagine. Then when I came home, I took some time off. It was difficult. I didn't intend to be pregnant, but afterwards I really grieved. I was 30 at the time, and the miscarriage had complications -- I wasn't supposed to try again. Rob basically told me to get over it and get on with life, and by the way, he wanted us to go into private practice so he could get a Lexus. Again, you both know me well enough to imagine that didn't go over too well.
TA: Sounds like the wounds are still pretty fresh.
GB: You don't get over something like that ever, not really. That's the thing about grief; it never really leaves you.
TA: And anger.
GB: Yes -- anger. I suppose I stayed angry with Rob. I did move on, though.
TA: When was the last time you saw him?
GB: Well, we saw each other around the courts quite a bit. He was in our office with Merle Pittman, haggling over the Katie Henderson case. Disgusting -- that girl is guilty as sin. Merle was complaining to me about it. That was around the 12th, 13th of April. I can ask Merle to check his calendar if you want the exact date.
TA: So that was the week of his death.
GB: Apparently so.
TA: Did you see him or hear from him at all after that?
TA: What about Mr. Pittman?
GB: I don't know. I didn't hear anything more about it.
TA: Did you ever visit Mr. Pruitt at home to discuss case matters?
GB: No. I don't even know where he lives -- or lived.
TA: Now, wait. Mr. Rayburn said he went to Mr. Pruitt's house all the time. Are you sure Mr. Rayburn didn't tell you--
GB: Why would he and I talk about Mr. Pruitt? That's the last topic on earth I care to discuss. No. Let me get this straight for you -- what happened between Mr. Pruitt and Mr. Rayburn was their concern and their concern alone.
TA: What do you and Mr. Rayburn talk about, if not Mr. Pruitt?
GB: Oh, just about anything. He shares my political sympathies, which is rare in this state. And he does a lot for Habitat for Humanity -- he asks me for advice on their fundraising. But I said I wasn't going to talk about this. You two are devious.
TA: I'll take that as a compliment.
SM: Ms. Bell, when did you last see Mr. Rayburn before Mr. Pruitt's death?
GB: I don't recall. I guess it was maybe the 14th. Thursday evening. We got together for a drink after work.
SM: Can you look that up in your calendar?
GB: I don't record my social life, Detectives. It would make for dull reading. So no, I didn't write it down.
SM: What about since then?
GB: I saw Gary the Thursday before Easter -- drinks after work again.
TA: Right. Ms. Bell, do you know Mr. Pruitt's second wife?
GB: Vanessa or something, right?
GB: No. Never met her. Didn't care to. I saw their wedding announcement in the papers a few years back. She's around town a lot. Isn't she a sales rep for the Eagle? That would fit Rob just right. Probably got his Lexus.
SM: Were they planning to have kids?
GB: How should I know?
SM: Did you know Wayne Fisher?
GB: The second guy? No. Never met him. I understand he had a record.
SM: Ms. Bell, for the record, we need to ask where you were the night of April 15.
GB: Not a problem. I was in Jackson earlier in the day, and then came back and went to The Juke Joint and watched the movie, Scream 4. It was stupid fluff just to take my mind off things. After that I went home. I hope you won't tell anyone, it might ruin my reputation as an aesthete who's out of touch with popular culture.
SM: Did you see anyone at any point during the day? Call anyone?
GB: I don't know. The barmaids, I guess. I was on my cell phone all the way to and from Jackson. Oh, and I stopped at the store -- Kroger -- for milk on the way home. I'm sure someone spotted me.
SM: Did you call anyone after you got home?
GB: Afraid not. It was a little late, even for me.
SM: You didn't see Mr. Rayburn?
SM: How might Mr. Pruitt and Mr. Fisher have known each other?
GB: I have no idea.
TA: Ms. Bell, who could have killed Mr. Pruitt?
GB: Take your pick. If I were you, I'd start with the scum he couldn't manage to get a reduced sentence for. Or maybe the victims of their crimes. So many possibilities.
TA: What about Mr. Fisher?
GB: Again, I have no idea.
TA: We may need to speak with you again. How do you feel about that?
GB: Come back and visit any time.
Interview ends -- 10:58 AM