No one but her husband could have hated JoAnn Linkenauger enough to beat and choke her so violently before dumping the Moorpark woman’s half-naked body into a muddy ditch in a final act of humiliation, a prosecutor said Monday.
In a closing argument at James Linkenauger’s murder trial, Deputy Dist. Atty. Matthew J. Hardy portrayed the defendant as a 39-year-old loser on disability who resented his wife’s success and grew weary of having to ask her for money to play golf and drink beer.
“At some point he decided that her value as a meal ticket . . . just wasn’t worth the humiliation,” Hardy told a Ventura County Superior Court jury.
“Jim Linkenauger didn’t just consider the act of murder. He swam in it. He stooped in it. When he decided to hurt her, he gave her the hurt of her life,” Hardy said.
“No one could do this, and this,” Hardy said, displaying to the jury enlarged color photographs of the victim’s severely battered body.
In a chilling summation that depicted Linkenauger as an unremorseful killer, Hardy said the defendant beat and pounded his wife so brutally that 20% of her blood supply was spattered around the floors and walls of their Moorpark home.
Defense attorney Louis B. Samonsky Jr. is scheduled to deliver his closing argument to the jury this morning.
“He’s focusing on the wrong issue,” the defense attorney said outside court during a break in Hardy’s argument. “He’s assuming things he shouldn’t assume.”
But Samonsky declined to elaborate. He told reporters previously that JoAnn Linkenauger led a “secret life” and that someone in that other life could have killed her. But the jury has not heard that allegation, nor any evidence to support it.
JoAnn Linkenauger, 39, was strangled Jan. 17, hours after returning from a weekend trip to Las Vegas that she made without her husband.
Neighbors on three sides of the Linkenauger home heard screams about the time one witness saw James Linkenauger drag a woman by the hair into his driveway, according to trial testimony. Other witnesses identified Linkenauger as the man they picked up on a rainy highway the night of the killing, near where the body was dumped and where the victim’s car was found stuck in the mud.
Linkenauger told investigators he was too drunk the night of Jan. 17 to have killed his wife. In taped interviews with detectives that were later played to the jury, Linkenauger said he went straight to bed and did not notice bloodstains on the walls and carpet of his home.
He insisted that he had not seen his wife since the previous Friday morning, when she left for what he thought was a work-related convention in San Francisco.
But Hardy said it was suspicious that in the interviews, Linkenauger never asked investigators what had happened to his wife, or what condition her body was in when it was found. Also, Hardy told the jury, Linkenauger was informed only that there was a body found near his wife’s car.
“Most people would think that sounds like a car accident,” the prosecutor said. “He always assumed it was a murder.”
Hardy said no one else would ever have taken so much time to kill JoAnn Linkenauger. Nor did anyone else have a motive for trying to cover up the crime.
Investigators testified that someone tried to wash out blood from the badly stained carpet at the Linkenauger home.
“Only the defendant could have done the things that were done in that house,” Hardy said. “Anyone but the defendant would have run away from the scene immediately.”