Susan Van Note found not guilty in murder of father and his girlfriend

A jury has found Susan Van Note not guilty in the 2010 murders of her millionaire father, William Van Note, and his girlfriend, Sharon Dickson. A recent story found here summarizes the case and trial.

William and Sharon were murdered in a late-night attack on October 2, 2010. They were shot and stabbed at their waterfront home at the Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri. Sharon, 59, died at the scene. William, 67, died four days later at a hospital in Columbia. Susan went to the hospital with a power of attorney for health care and asked for his ventilator to be shut off.

The high profile trial wrapped up on February 14, 2017. Susan was accused of killing her father because he had decided to leave the majority of his multi-million dollar estate to Sharon. The prosecutor, Kevin Zoellner, argued there was a call from Susan’s cellphone to her home that pinged a tower near the crime scene in the Lake of the Ozarks minutes after the attack. This suggested that Susan was in the area very close to the time of the attack. Susan’s position was that she was home in Lee’s summit.

Furthermore, Mr. Zoellner argued that Susan forged her father’s signature on the power of attorney used to turn off William’s ventilator. Investigators had seized Susan’s laptop and determined that the power of attorney document had been created after the attack. The prosecution’s position was that Susan used the power of attorney to silence William just four days after the attack so that the details of the attack would not come out.

Susan was portrayed as an unscrupulous killer who had come back days after the initial attack to finish the job by effectively telling the hospital to kill her father.

Susan’s position was that another man was responsible for the murders

Defense attorney Tom Bath argued that no hair, blood, DNA or fibers linked Susan to the crime scene. Additionally, the evidence suggested that there had been a vicious fight between Sharon and the attacker. Susan had no cuts, scratches, or abrasions, and there was no blood in her car.

The defense also brought up a man who in 2005 had borrowed $600,000 from William. This man put up 11 properties as collateral including his personal residence. He was supposed to pay back William, but when he failed, William moved to foreclose. The defense revealed that in the 10 days leading up to the attack William had six phone conversations with this man.

Interestingly, this man cannot be found by authorities. The defense concluded by stating that not piece of physical evidence linked Susan to the crime scene. Finally, Susan did not testify at the trial.

It is important to note that the Jury foreman, Merri Hess concluded that: “Not guilty, does not mean innocent.” Additionally, Ms. Hess stated that the panel felt strongly that Susan was involved, but had to decide on the evidence. Furthermore, Sharon’s son, Andrew Jackson, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Susan. It will be interesting to see what happens in this case and in the wrongful death lawsuit. The allegations that Susan had committed murder as result of having her share of her father’s money decreased were shocking. Had she been found guilty of the murders, it would have been one of the most extreme cases of hostility related to estate planning.

More on the Susan Van Note story here.