Comstock trial day four: Jury finds ex-wife at fault (MO)

(Springfield, MO) — A jury has finished deliberating a week’s worth of evidence in the wrongful death civil case of Rolland Comstock, a prominent Springfield lawyer.

Nine of 12 jurors found Alberta Comstock at fault in the wrongful death of her ex-husband, meaning they believe she likely caused his death in 2007.

Alberta Comstock is being ordered to pay $125,000 in punitive damages to Faith Stocker, Comstock’s step-daughter, who brought on this civil case after no criminal charges were filed.

Greene County Prosecutor Dan Patterson says the decision has no effect on whether criminal charges will be filed.

The standards are different for civil and criminal cases. In civil trials, only a majority of the jury is needed to find someone at fault. They use what Patterson describes as a “more likely than not” standard.

In criminal cases, the jury must make a unanimous decision. Attorneys must prove someone’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Patterson says he doesn’t believe any additional evidence was presented in the civil trial that would change the direction of the criminal investigation.

The Greene County Sheriff’s Office still considers the Rolland Comstock murder an open investigation.

Prosecutors are waiting for more evidence before they pursue criminal charges.

Attorneys tell KOLR/KSFX it’s likely an appeal will be filed.

Alberta’s attorney politely declined an interview, as did Alberta, as they walked out of the courtroom.

Nearly five hours earlier, the defense rested its case.

Jurors deliberated for a little more than five hours, at one point asking to re-examine some evidence.

Stocker took the stand ahead of closing arguments Friday afternoon. She was asked about money she took from her father’s trust.

“Another person very likely committed this crime,” said Shane Contin, Alberta’s attorney. “It’s unfortunate no one has been arrested or convicted. Alberta’s not the right person.”

“In her mind, Rolland was conspiring to cheat her out of her share,” said Stuart King, Stocker’s attorney. “That’s the frame of mind that sent her to Springfield that day.”

Detectives also took the stand Friday to explain how they searched Comstock’s home after the death.

On Thursday, the trial got personal, with Alberta taking the stand. She spoke of their 38-year marriage, describing it as happy, saying they traveled together and raised five children.

Alberta Comstock cried while talking about the relationship, saying it ended when Rolland admitted he was sexually conflicted.

Lawyers also asked her about a series of questions that were posed during the death investigation in which Alberta pleaded the fifth to all of them.

The defense also pointed out Alberta’s health concerns. She’s had two strokes and suffers from dementia.

An attorney also read a letter written by the daughter — Ms. Stocker — responsible for bringing this case to trial.


Comstock Trial Day Four: Jury Finds Ex-Wife At Fault
Brian Richardson
July 1, 2011