Romance novelist guilty of killing Portland chef husband
Local romance novelist Nancy Crampton Brophy, who once wrote a blog post on "How to Murder Your Husband," was found guilty of murdering her husband on Wednesday, May 25.
A Multnomah County jury found Crampton Brophy guilty of second-degree murder in the shooting death of Daniel Brophy in June 2018.
County officials announced a jury had reached around 11:10 a.m. and the decision was announced at around 12:10 p.m. after a jury began deliberating Tuesday morning when the prosecution finished its final rebuttal arguments.
Daniel Brophy, a chef, was found dead inside a kitchen at the Oregon Culinary Institute on June 2, 2018. His wife Crampton Brophy was arrested on September 5, 2018. She's been in jail since then.
Brophy, a beloved chef and instructor at the Oregon Culinary Institute, was remembered by several of his former students and colleagues who testified during the trial to say how knowledgeable he was in his field and what a great instructor and mentor he was.
Portland police Det. Anthony Merrill, one of the lead detectives in the case, testified during the trial saying no leads pointed away from Crampton Brophy as a suspect.
Investigators say they never found the slide and barrel or gun that fired the two bullets that went through Brophy's heart. Two casings were found near his body, but the slide and barrel from the handgun and ghost gun build kit found in Crampton Brophy's possession did not leave markings on casings that matched those found at the scene.
However, Crampton Brophy admitted during the trial that she had purchased another slide and barrel. She said this gun part was for research and that it must have gone missing while people moved her belongings out of her house while she was in jail.
In their opening statement and closing arguments, prosecutors speculated that Crampton Brophy used this spare slide and barrel on another gun frame she possessed to commit the murder, then disposed of the slide and barrel to avoid it being found and used for evidence.
Detectives collected an assembled Glock 19 handgun and a Glock 17 ghost gun build kit from Crampton Brophy. They determined Brophy was killed by some sort of a Glock handgun.
Prosecutors claimed the Brophys were facing financial ruin and that Crampton Brophy's motive for killing her husband was to cash in on his life insurance policies and remove herself from the debt she was in. The fall before Brophy was killed, the couple had taken $35,000 out of Brophy's 401K account — about half of its total amount — to pay down credit card debts and to catch up on the more than $8,000 they owed on their mortgage.
An expert witness for the prosecution said the Brophys were teetering on the edge of a financial cliff, but an expert witness for the defense said this 401K loan was a smart way to ensure they could keep their house, make improvements to it, and eventually sell it.
Surveillance video from businesses near the Oregon Culinary Institute, in Portland's Goose Hollow neighborhood showed what appeared to be Crampton Brophy in her gray minivan in the area at around the time Brophy was murdered. Brophy disarmed the alarm at the Oregon Culinary Institute at 7:22 a.m. and the gray van was seen driving away from the neighborhood at 7:29 a.m.
In her testimony, Crampton Brophy confirmed that was her in the van on the surveillance video. Previously, in her initial interview with police officers on the day of the murder, she told them she was in bed at home writing at the time her husband was killed. In her testimony, she said she must have driven to the Goose Hollow Neighborhood to write in a park or in her vehicle, but she claimed she had a "memory hole" of the exact events that took place that morning.
The defense brought in a psychologist who testified and explained that traumatic events can cause people to forget events that take place before the traumatic event, and that sometimes they reconstruct the memories in their brain. The psychologist said the tests she performed on Crampton Brophy showed she was not a psychopath.
After Crampton Brophy claimed she had a "memory hole" of that morning's events, Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney Shawn Overstreet asked her if she has no memory, then how could she be sure she didn't go into the Oregon Culinary Institute.
Crampton Brophy replied saying, "I know I didn't go in the building because I know I didn't kill Dan. I know that for a fact."
The witnesses who testified during the trial who were close to the Brophys said they always seemed happy together and had an admirable relationship.
Crampton Brophy said her husband's death was not part of their "plan" and that she would have been better off financially if he was still alive.
A blog post Crampton Brophy wrote in 2011 was titled "How to Murder Your Husband"that was not allowed into evidence. In response to a motion filed by her defense team, Judge Christopher Ramras decided the blog post would not be admitted as evidence during the trial.
Sentencing for Crampton Brophy will take place on Monday, June 13.
KOIN 6 News is a news partner of the Portland Tribune.
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