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16 years to life for killing therapist husband

A suburban California homemaker who fatally stabbed her millionaire psychotherapist husband, whom she met as a 14-year-old girl in treatment, was sentenced Friday to 16 years to life in prison for murder.
Susan Polk walks into court on the first day of her murder trial Oct. 11, 2005, in Martinez, Calif.Dan Rosenstrauch / Pool via AP file
/ Source: The Associated Press

A woman who fatally stabbed her millionaire psychotherapist husband, whom she met as a 14-year-old girl in treatment, was sentenced Friday to 16 years to life in prison for murder.

Susan Polk received the maximum sentence after acting as her own lawyer in a trial permeated with theatrics, including discussion of her psychic powers and cross-examination of her own sons. An attorney representing her Friday said she planned to appeal.

The 49-year-old suburban housewife was convicted in June of second-degree murder in the October 2002 killing of Felix Polk, 70, at the couple’s home in Orinda, a wealthy town east of San Francisco.

No more cookies
Dressed neatly in a pair of khaki pants and a pink cotton sweater, Polk did not appear surprised by the sentence. Earlier, she told the court she was prepared to go to prison and intended to be productive for however long she was there.

“I won’t be able to bake cookies, but maybe I’ll write a couple of good stories,” she said.

Polk said she killed her husband in self-defense after years of abuse and said authorities fabricated and suppressed evidence in the case.

She testified that she seized a kitchen knife from her husband during an attack near their swimming pool and used it to stab him. But prosecutors said she had no wounds to indicate she was protecting herself and Felix Polk had more than a dozen stab wounds.

Abuse defense shot down
Polk said her husband began abusing her while she was his teenage therapy patient, and argued that should be a mitigating factor in her sentencing. Her mother, Helen Bolling, told the court that her daughter deserved compassion “considering she has been in prison since she was 14 years old.”

But Judge Laurel Brady said the relationship, although problematic, should not be considered in her sentencing because it was not the issue the jury determined at trial.

Jurors in the case did not find Polk credible and one referred to her as delusional. While testifying, Polk discussed secret government experiments and claimed that her psychic powers enabled her to predict the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on World Trade Center, but said her husband prevented her from alerting authorities.

Under cross-examination from his mother, Adam Polk said she was “bonkers” and “cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs,” referring to a breakfast cereal catch phrase. Friday, he told his mother that he did not know if he would ever be able to forgive her.

“If he were here today he would want you to find the best head doctor in the business and get help,” he said.

Lawyer vows appeal
Polk’s lawyer, Linda Fullerton, said there are strong grounds for appeal. The trial was tainted by Polk’s own representation and her tense interactions with Brady, who frequently admonished her from the bench, the attorney said.

Polk will be eligible for parole after about 12 years because she has already served more than three years in jail.

But a prosecutor was skeptical that Polk would ever be released.

“She will have to earn her way out and the chances of that are slim,” Paul Sequeira said. “She has no remorse. She is still defiant and I think she will be until she draws her last breath.”