Accused of Faking Burglary : Woman Convicted of Murdering Husband
A 26-year-old Panorama City woman who claimed to have been sleeping while an unknown intruder stabbed and beat her husband to death was convicted of his murder Wednesday in Van Nuys Superior Court.
Terri Lynn Scrape, a laboratory technician, had been accused of faking a burglary as part of a scheme to hide her guilt in the May, 1984, killing of Lee Andrew Scrape, 40. Throughout the trial, she had claimed that her husband was stabbed and beaten during a burglary while she was napping in the next room.
But a 12-member jury rejected that claim after two days of deliberation, returning its verdict of second-degree murder at 4:47 p.m. Wednesday.
‘Tried to Cover’ Crime
Gloria Wilson, the jury foreman, said jurors accepted a theory that Scrape had stabbed her husband repeatedly with a paring knife before feigning hysteria and running into the street.
“We were convinced that she tried to cover it up after the fact,” said Wilson, who said the jury believed Scrape may have killed her husband with the help of an accomplice.
Lee Scrape’s nude body was found in the living room next to a bottle of champagne, Deputy Dist. Atty. Ed Consiglio said. He had stab wounds to the arms, head, neck, chest and back, and also had been hit repeatedly with a fireplace poker that was found outside the house.
Consiglio said police found a sliding glass door open and clothing scattered in and around the house. The victim’s wallet was missing, Consiglio said, suggesting a burglary that had turned violent.
At the trial, however, Consiglio argued that Scrape’s explanation of the crime was riddled with contradictions. Numerous valuables in plain sight in the house were untouched during the alleged burglary, and fingerprint records contradicted Scrape’s claim that she never touched the body.
Police also found what appeared to be the murder weapon hidden in a dishwasher full of otherwise clean items, Consiglio said.
Suggestions that Scrape murdered her husband dovetailed with testimony of neighbors, who testified that they had heard what could have been Scrape’s voice during a violent argument earlier in the evening, Consiglio said.
Lee Scrape’s relatives testified that the couple had been having marital problems and that the husband had begun to suspect his wife was having an affair.
At the trial, Scrape testified that she had gone to sleep in her bedroom after spending a romantic evening in the living room with her husband, only to find him dead when she awakened. She claimed to have slept through the burglary and the argument that awakened her neighbors.
Superior Court Judge Darlene Schempp set sentencing for July 12 before remanding Scrape to Los Angeles County Jail.