Jurors who convicted a suburban housewife in the stabbing death of her millionaire psychotherapist husband decided the killing was not premeditated, but they had a hard time believing her.
Susan Polk’s second-degree murder conviction on Friday ended a circus-like trial in which Polk, acting as her own attorney, discussed her psychic powers and cross-examined two of her sons.
In perhaps the most memorable moment of the 14-week trial, Polk’s son, Adam, called his mother “bonkers” and “cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs” on the witness stand. The judge had to hold back laughter.
“We didn’t think Susan was credible,” jury foreman Lisa Cristwell said. Juror Kathy Sommese said Polk was “delusional.”
While on the stand, Polk, 48, discussed secret government experiments, psychic powers and Sept. 11, 2001, claiming she could have thwarted the World Trade Center attacks if her husband had not prevented her from alerting authorities.
Scores of observers came to the courthouse in this San Francisco suburb to hear Polk’s sensational stories in a trial marked by familial dysfunction. Animated and often angry, she talked over the judge, insulted the prosecutor and continually called for a mistrial.
The jury deliberated for four days before convicting Polk in the 2002 stabbing of Felix Polk, 70, at their home near San Francisco. She faces a mandatory 15 years to life in prison at sentencing, set for July 14.
Prosecutor Paul Sequeira had sought a first-degree murder conviction, arguing that Polk plotted to kill her husband, whom met as a 14-year-old girl in treatment, so she could get his multimillion-dollar estate. He described Polk as a manipulative liar who turned on anyone who did not agree with her version of reality.
Polk contended her husband had attacked her with a kitchen knife and she stabbed him in self-defense following years of abuse. She testified to beatings and abuse by her husband, who she said kept her isolated and viewed sex as “essentially rape.”
During her closing argument, Polk said she was being railroaded because people in power thought she was delusional. “Am I on trial for saying I predicted the 9-11 terror attacks or am I on trial for murder?” she asked the jury.
Polk wept lightly before the jury entered the courtroom to deliver the verdict. After jurors left, Polk told Judge Laurel Brady that the case against her was built on “fabrication and suppression of the evidence by county officials.”
A judge previously ruled she was competent to stand trial.