James Harrod's ex-wife, Ann Costello, testified October 29 that her then-husband wasn't home the night of Phoenix socialite Jeanne Tovrea's murder, but denied any part in what prosecutors allege was a murder for hire scheme.|
Costello, testifying for the prosecution under a gaurantee of immunity, confirmed to lead prosecutor Paul Ahler that she failed to notify police for more than five years, until after she and Harrod divorced in 1994. The couple had married in 1985, and seperated in 1993.
During cross-examination, defense co-counsel Michael Bernays asked Costello whether she had gone to police immediately to provide information years before when her friend, an Arizona State University student named Gretchen White, had been killed. "Yes, I did," she replied.
Harrod owned "a large shotgun," a 9-mm handgun, a 38-caliber special handgun, a .22-caliber revolver, and a "small" gun in a box that appeared to be "bottom-loading," testified Costello.
She also testified that when she and Harrod had gone out practice shooting in the desert, she had seen him attach a "round, tubular device" with "tiny holes" to one of the guns, but she couldn't specify to which gun. The implication was that the device was a silencer.
Bernays asked Costello if the 38-caliber special wasn't actually her gun, not Harrod's. Costello conceded only that she took that handgun with her on a trip to California in 1990 or 1991.
Costello told the court her then-husband had left their Ahwatukee Foothills home around 9 p.m. on March 31, 1988. Tovrea's body was found by police in her home shortly after midnight.
That evening, said Costello, Herrod was wearing gray camouflage pants, a black sweatshirt, and a green army jacket, and was carrying a duffel bag. However, she conceded he frequently wore the camouflage pants and a black sweatshirt, and said she "didn't see any guns" or binoculars on Harrod when he left.
Bernays reminded Costello that in a January 1996 interview, with detective Ed Reynolds and prosecutors, she had told them the gym bag was used "to carry weight-lifting supplies."
Soon after Harrod left, Costello said she entered his home office. "I was looking to see if any of the guns were still there, and if the binoculars were there. I didn't see them," she said.
However, Costello later admitted she didn't check all the file cabinets in Harrod's home office, and therefore didn't know for certain that any of the guns were missing.
Costello also said it "could be possible" that the small gun she had seen in a box was the Jennings .22-caliber semi-automatic handgun seized from Harrod when he was arrested.
Bernays then asked Costello if she was aware the Jennings .22 had been excluded, by ballistics tests, as the gun that had killed Jeanne Tovrea. "I would not be aware of that," she replied.
Asked by Ahler what she did next, Costello replied, "I prayed." Then, she said, she went on to bed and went to sleep.
(Judge Ronald S. Reinstein the next day had the "I prayed" comment stricken from the record, and instructed the jury to disregard it. Bernays had argued Costello's religious comment could unfairly influence jurors.)
"I don't know when he came back," said Costello. "I woke up about 2 a.m. (but) he wasn't there." She said she was aware Harrod was home "the next morning, about five or six o'clock."
During cross-examination, Costello said that when she awoke about 2 a.m., she hadn't gotten out of bed and searched the house, nor looked out on the patio where Harrod sometimes went to smoke. Costello said when she next woke up at 5 a.m., Harrod was in bed.
Other allegations made in Costello's testimony:
*She identified as belonging to Harrod a wallet reportedly with the name "Gordon N. Smith." Prosecutors have alleged Harrod used an alias, Gordon Phillips. Bernays said the name on the wallet was actually a logo for "Gordon & Smith," a California beach apparel company.
*Harrod reportedly received three Federal Express packages, containing large checks or cash, sometime between August 1987 and August 1991, with return labels indicating the packages were from Edward Tovrea Jr., stepson of the slain woman, or his company, MECA.
*There would be a document that would come in with the checks," Costello said.
Bernays then reminded Costello of a statement she had made in a 1996 interview with Reynolds and prosecutors, in which she said, "I would also see Fed-Ex packages where there would be documents in there (but not with documents and checks)."
Costello also identified Harrod's signature on a consulting agreement, dated in March 1989, with the younger Tovrea and Jason Hu, regarding a joint business venture in China. The defense has claimed there was a legitimate business deal between Harrod and Tovrea's son.
Questioned about her and her ex-husband's 1988 federal tax statement, Costello agreed although Harrod's business new income was only $18,000, the total income had been $24,000--thus accounting for the $13,000 house down-payment and the $2,000 Chevrolet Blazer down payment he made the same year.
Harrod not only did consulting work, but also worked on cars at home for cash, Costello said.
*She identified daytime planners for 1988 and 1989 as Harrod's, and his handwriting in a Febroary 25, 1988 entry, "Send letter to homeowners association, 3500E. Lincoln Dr."-the address of Lincoln Hills Estates, where Jeanne Tovrea lived in No. 26. However, cross-examination revealed that Harrod also had a real estate license at the time.
*Costello identified a mal voice on a microcassette tape recording, reportedly from Jeanne Tovrea's answering machine, using the Name Gordon Phillips, as her ex-husband's voice. "It's my ex-husband--James Harrod," she said.
Costello's brothers Kurt and Mark Costello, and Mark's wife, Elizabeth Costello, earlier had identified the taped "Gordon Phillips" voice as Harrod's. Patricia Maille, a former part-time business associate of Harrod's, also identified the voice as Harrod's.
On cross-examination, each of the four conceded it's "a common human experience" to mistake someone's voice, even someone well known. Maille didn't agree such an error was possible. Asked by Bernays whether "not once in your life" she had ever mistaken one person's vopice for another, Maille replied, "No, I have not."
A voice print analysis apparently has never been made to compare the taped "Gordon Phillips" voice to Harrod's.
The Tovrea Homepage
The Jeanne Tovrea Murder Listing
18. (page 69) Victim's Daughter Names Harrod