Depending on whether you listened to the prosecution or defense, Rachael Mullenix is either a manipulative killer and a liar who used her boyfriend to help her knock off her mom, or she is the abused victim of her violent beau and only helped him cover up a murder because she didn’t know how else to cope with a shocking act. That’s what jurors now have to decide, as they went into deliberation Monday afternoon in search of a verdict.
As the trial of Mullenix, 19, neared an end, the prosecution and defense made closing arguments in a last attempt to get their cases across.
Whether Rachael Mullenix actually held the knives that killed her mother or not, she’s guilty of first-degree murder because she made sure it happened, the prosecution said in closing arguments.
“You don’t have to ever even discuss, if you don’t want to, what happened in that room,” prosecutor Sonia Balleste said. “If you believe there’s a plan to kill and you believe she committed any act in furtherance of that act, knowing she was intending to kill, you’re done.”
In return, defense attorney David R. Cohn said many of the most damning pieces of testimony — like diary entries saying Mullenix hated her mother — had been taken out of context. The plan wasn’t to kill her mother, Barbara Mullenix, but to run away from her, he said.
“What we have is a plan to run away,” he said. “It makes sense into the facts of this case if you put it into context and don’t piecemeal things. What the D.A.’s or prosecutor’s case says just doesn’t make sense.”
Mullenix is charged with conspiracy and murder in the killing of Barbara Mullenix, found with more than 50 stab wounds near the Newport Harbor Yacht Club on Sept. 13, 2006. Prosecutors say she manipulated her then-boyfriend Ian Allen into helping her kill Barbara Mullenix in the Huntington Beach condo where the two females lived and then dispose of the body.
More than 50 stab wounds caused by multiple knives show that Barbara Mullenix’s killer wasn’t just caught up in some fit of passion, Balleste said.
“Whoever killed Barbara Mullenix intended to kill her — overkilled her — and left no doubt in our minds what their intent was,” she said.
Though Mullenix has testified she tried to stop Allen as he held Barbara Mullenix on a bed and stabbed her to death, Balleste told jurors it was close to absurd to believe he did it all alone.
“What that leaves us with is Ian the super villain,” she said. “Because in order for Ian Allen to have committed this crime all alone, Ian must have tremendous strength, the strength of Samson. Because he uses the knives with the skill of a samurai to fend off Barbara, hold her down, and is able to embed the butter knife in her eye, fight her off, all while Rachael Mullenix fights with all her strength to stop him.”
But forensic evidence allowed for a longer killing, lasting up to an hour, Cohn said. And perhaps Mullenix might have made it take longer by trying to stop her boyfriend from committing a violent act, he said.
“That could have prolonged the entire process and caused the many slash wounds going on in that situation,” he said to jurors.
The jury will continue to deliberate this week. There is no indication when they might come to a verdict.
MICHAEL ALEXANDER may be reached at (714) 966-4618 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.