McKINNEY (September 11, 2012)--Trial has started for a Frisco woman accused in a 2008 murder-for-hire plot that left her estranged husband dead and his girlfriend seriously injured.
The Collin County trial of Vera Elizabeth Guthrie-Nail, 47, a 1984 China Spring High School graduate, started Monday.
Guthrie-Nail grew up in the Waco area and graduated from China Spring High School in 1984.
Guthrie-Nail, charged with capital murder and solicitation for capital murder, faces up to life in prison if convicted.
A prosecutor asked jurors to hold Guthrie-Nail accountable for the death of 36-year-old Craig Nail, saying, "She didn't pull the trigger but she pulled all the strings necessary to get it done."
Mark Lyle Bell, who prosecutors say was an accomplice in the murder, pleaded guilty last year to capital murder in Nail's death and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Defense attorneys are arguing that Bell acted alone.
Guthrie-Nail’s first trial ended abruptly last February in the same McKinney courtroom.
Jury selection had been completed February 1 and testimony was about to begin when the judge suspended the trial and reset it for a later date.
Colin County District Attorney's Office investigator Mike Bennett said the issue revolved around discovery, the rules by which the defense is entitled to see details of the prosecutor's case.
Thomas Edward Grace of Carrollton also was charged with conspiracy to commit capital murder.
He pleaded guilty as well and has been sentenced.
Craig Nail was found dead in his home the day after Christmas in 2008.
His girlfriend, Therisa Hofman, 38, was wounded when she walked into the house and encountered the assailant.
She was able to reach a neighbor's house, from which a 911 call was placed reporting the shooting.
The Nails were involved in a bitter divorce case, which was filed in May 2006.
Detectives executed a search warrant two weeks after Guthrie-Nail's arrest at the home of her mother on Old China Spring Road and at an adjacent mobile home.
According to the affidavit filed in support of the warrant, a Frisco police detective interviewed a longtime friend of Guthrie-Nail's.
The woman said she visited with Guthrie-Nail after the shootings and said Guthrie-Nail told her "that she did not hire anyone to kill Craig, nor did she ask anyone to kill Craig, she did however know it was going to happen," the affidavit says.
The woman said Guthrie-Nail told her that the killer was someone in California who had been contacted by a member of Bikers Against Child Abuse, to which Guthrie-Nail also belonged.
She said that person, who was not identified, watched her estranged husband's home for four months and intended to make the attack look like a murder-suicide.
Craig Nail's 16-year-old daughter was also supposed to have been killed, the affidavit says.
The affidavit indicates Guthrie-Nail did communicate with the killer on an older pay-as-you-go cell phone that had belonged to her mother and that she had told her mother to destroy the phone if police ever showed up at the house.
Before the woman left, she said Guthrie-Nail gave her a bag of documents and two .22 caliber rounds "from the same box of ammunition used to kill Craig," the affidavit says.