A Slaughter woman accused in the 2015 poisoning death of her boyfriend was ordered held without bail Friday after a prosecutor alleged in a Baton Rouge courtroom that she committed the “cold and calculated” murder of not only that man but also her husband the following year, both to get her hands on insurance money.
Meshell Hale, 50, was booked June 5 on a second-degree murder count in the 2015 killing of her live-in boyfriend, Damian Skipper, but hasn’t been arrested in the 2016 death of her husband, Arthur Noflin Jr., of Baton Rouge, whose body was found burned beyond recognition in a truck in New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward.
East Baton Rouge Parish Assistant District Attorney Dana Cummings strongly hinted inside state District Judge Richard Anderson’s courtroom Friday that Hale could be indicted in Noflin’s slaying before she is arrested.
Nicole Robinson, a 19th Judicial District Court Commissioner, set Hale’s bail at $150,000 after her arrest. But Anderson ordered Hale held without bail Friday after Cummings argued there is “overwhelming evidence” that she killed Skipper and “very incriminating” evidence linking her to Noflin’s death.
A Slaughter woman accused in the fatal 2015 poisoning of her boyfriend and whose husband's 2016 death remains under investigation was ordered …
Cummings said Hale researched and purchased barium before Skipper died, and conducted more Internet research and bought more barium after he died but before Noflin died.
It was believed Skipper suffered a fatal heart attack, Cumming said. But after Noflin’s body was found, she said, officials exhumed Skipper’s body, performed an autopsy and determined Skipper died of barium poisoning.
“She poses an imminent danger to others,” the prosecutor argued to Anderson. “What will she do to the next person who is in her way?”
Hale collected $10,000 from Skipper’s life insurance policy and is seeking to collect on Noflin’s $750,000 policy, Cummings noted.
Dallon Bush, one of Hale’s attorneys, countered there is no evidence that the barium-related searches on Hale’s computer were actually performed by her. Bush also argued no information has been presented that Hale knew she was a beneficiary on Noflin’s life insurance policy. He argued further that Hale is not a flight risk, and that the $150,000 bail previously set was sufficient to guarantee her future court appearances.
Prosecutors say a 50-year-old Slaughter woman should stay in jail even though she posted the $150,000 bail set by a judge after she was arrest…
In the end, however, Anderson ordered Hale held without bail. She is being held in East Baton Rouge Parish Prison.
The next step is for an East Baton Rouge Parish grand jury to consider the evidence against Hale in the Skipper case, and possibly also the Noflin case.
Cummings said Hale made two barium purchases before Skipper died, with the final buy on May 8, 2015. He died the following month, she said.
Noflin’s cause and manner of death remain unclassified.
Cummings, however, told Anderson that Noflin, 42, was hospitalized before his death with some of the same symptoms that Skipper experienced before his death, including abdominal pain, weakness and vomiting.
The Orleans Parish Coroner’s Office conducted an autopsy on Noflin’s body, which showed no signs of trauma, and determined he did not inhale any smoke, meaning he was dead before his body was burned.
Investigators have been looking at Hale’s daughter, Dominique Hale, 33, and her partner, Nina Alexander, 37, in connection with the possible dumping of Noflin’s body and truck in New Orleans, court records indicate.
Police have spent the past couple of years gathering a mound of evidence potentially linking three women to the suspicious death of a Baton Ro…
Cummings told Anderson that license-plate recognition cameras captured Noflin’s truck and a Jeep — rented by Hale’s daughter and her significant other — traveling together down the interstate from Baton Rouge to New Orleans hours before Noflin’s body was discovered in the backseat of his burning truck.