PORT ALLEN — Monique O. Kitts told a jury Thursday in a murder-for-hire trial that she had no reason to want her husband dead, but a prosecutor suggested she had plenty of reasons — the main one being she wanted to cash in on her husband’s employment insurance policy and benefits.
“I could care less about that insurance money!” Kitts cried out in court Thursday as Assistant District Attorney Tony Clayton grilled her on the witness stand.
“Then why were you calling Shintech every day, worrying those people about it?” Clayton shouted in court.
“Shintech called me,” Kitts retorted. “I didn’t call those people!”
Kitts’ five hours on the stand Thursday began with her denying she had any desire to have her husband killed and denying she ever gave money to Karl Michael Howard, the man prosecutors believe shot Corey Kitts in the head three times while he was asleep in the couple’s Addis home.
Monique Kitts and Howard, 30, of Roswell, Georgia, are standing trial on charges of second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit second-degree murder in the July 9, 2010, slaying.
Kitts, the owner of the All Aboard Daycare in Plaquemine, testified she was trying to work on her marriage with her husband, not kill him, in the months leading up to his slaying.
In court Thursday, Kitts read to the jury two letters she wrote to her husband shortly before his death.
The first letter was a laundry list of things she wanted him to repair in their struggling marriage. She asked him to spend more time with their two kids, show her more affection, take her on monthly dates and stop asking frequent questions about her whereabouts.
Kitts fought back tears as she read the second letter. In it, she pleaded with Corey Kitts to stop questioning her parenting skills.
“I realize we are not the same people we were when we first met,” she read aloud in the courtroom. “We enjoyed each other’s company and wanted to be together. Now it’s like a job you hate.”
Attorney Allen Myles, Monique Kitts’ lawyer, asked, “Did you want to stay with your husband?”
She replied, “That was always my intention. I never wanted to be a single parent.”
Kitts’ testimony sharply contradicted more than a week’s worth of testimony and evidence from prosecutors, who portrayed her as a greedy woman who hired Howard, a Verizon employee living in Atlanta, to kill her husband so she could get her hands on a more than $800,000 payout from Corey Kitts’ employment benefits and life insurance.
The only bad decision she did admit to in court was her affair with David Ray Johnson, who testified last week he was still sleeping with Monique Kitts after her husband’s death.
But Kitts told jurors Johnson was lying and that she had ended the affair with him in January 2007.
After that, she said, “we just remained friends. We didn’t have sex.”
Johnson also testified last week that Kitts had asked him to find someone to kill her husband — a claim she also denied Thursday — and that he eventually introduced her to Howard. Johnson claimed Howard later told him that he had killed Corey Kitts.
Kitts also denied prosecution allegations that she met with Howard in Atlanta on at least two occasions to pay him to kill her husband. Kitts described the first trip as a weekend getaway to spend time with a girlfriend. She said her second trip was to help her niece move. She did admit to meeting with Howard at that time, but said it was only for a friendly dinner with her children.
She said described Howard as a friend who is “very smart, nerdy and likes to talk a lot.” She said he is a compassionate man and they spoke frequently in the seven years she has known him.
In his cross-examination, Clayton confronted Kitts about text messages she sent to Howard after January 2007, one of which said she thought he was sexy and thanked him for being part of her life.
Kitts argued that most of the text messages Clayton was referring to were group messages — and jokes — she sent to multiple people.
Clayton then showed her cellphone records proving she had talked to Johnson more than 1,400 times between October 2009 and July 9, 2010.
“We were friends. We talked every morning,” Kitts said.
“You talk every morning with a man you used to have sex with?”
“Yes,” she replied.
Kitts also denied she had met with Howard in Baton Rouge on several occasions prior to the murder, despite Clayton producing cellphone records showing they were in the same regions on days she had made large withdrawals from her business account.
When asked about a text Howard sent to her around 8:37 a.m. on July 9, 2010 — shortly before Corey Kitts was shot — Monique Kitts told Clayton she couldn’t remember what it said.
“You can’t tell the jury what that text said?” Clayton quizzed.
“No. I don’t remember,” she answered. “He texted me all the time, Mr. Clayton.”
When asked by Myles how her life has changed in the wake of her husband’s murder, Kitts described it as a major adjustment for herself and her two children.
“I went from living in a (large) home to an apartment,” she said. “My closet in my old home is probably bigger than my bedroom now. I lost everything: my home, my business.”
Clayton reminded her of the statement later, pointing out to the jury that she failed to mention the impact she has felt over losing her husband.
“You’re twisting my words, Mr. Clayton,” she cried. “Of course my children miss their father. I thought that was understood.”
The trial will resume Monday at 9 a.m.
Follow Terry Jones on Twitter, @tjonesreporter.