A jury began deliberations Monday in the first-degree murder trial of an accountant accused of killing his unfaithful wife and her boyfriend in a Scottsdale home five years ago.
Thomas Sweeney contended that he wasn’t there when the crime occurred on Nov. 16, 1998. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Hotham told jurors he must be acquitted if there is a reasonable doubt he was there.
Sweeney faces two counts of first-degree murder. If convicted, he could face life in prison or the death penalty.
Prosecutors contend Sweeney shot and killed his wife, Julia Sweeney, and Allan Neuman because he was shamed by the extra-marital affair. But defense attorney Larry Kazan called the state’s theory "all speculative hypothesis."
Prosecutor Maria Armijo urged the jury to dismiss the defense theory that Neuman killed Julia Sweeney before firing a fatal bullet into his own head. Armijo called the slayings "a coldblooded scheming plan" that was in the making for a few months.
Armijo said telephone records show a six-minute telephone call two nights before the slaying from Sweeney’s cell phone to Neuman’s home telephone.
Neuman probably let Sweeney in the house in the 9400 block of East Palm Tree Drive — where Julia Sweeney and Neuman worked together — so they could finish whatever conversation they had before, Armijo said.
Sweeney grabbed Neuman from behind the couch where he was sitting and pulled back on his head, then fired one shot into the side of his head, Armijo said.
The next question is whether Julia Sweeney froze or ran. The coffee table in front of the slain couple was moved, but Julia Sweeney’s hands indicate she was in a cowering position when she was shot, Armijo said. She said Sweeney positioned the bodies to make it look like a murder-suicide and placed the gun in Neuman’s hand.
Sweeney was absent from work from 10 to 11:30 a.m. that day, which gave him time to kill the pair, Armijo said.
But Kazan said all but one of Sweeney’s co-workers were imprecise on the time of his absence. He said that one coworker is more reliable because he was leaving the office to attend to a family emergency when he checked his watch and saw Sweeney at work at 10:30.