Few things irritate me more in defendants in cases in which it is blatantly obvious that they are guilty is arrogance. Alec McNaughton had it in spades! Alec McNaughton was innocent and everyone who had anything to do with the investigation into the death of his wife, or any testified against him were liars. Phone records that said he was not where he said he was were wrong. The detective in charge of the investigation was only out to make a name for himself because it was his first homicide case. Despite the fact his daughter, who would tragically later die in a car accident, called 911 years prior to report that she had overheard him state that he was going to kill her, her mother and then himself, she “knew better.” It is likely that Alec McNaughton's arrogance came from the fact that he had once been an attorney but the funny thing is that those skills did not prevent him from talking to authorities or asking for a lawyer when he was repeatedly interrogated.
On February 15, 2009 Alec McNaughton called 911 and reported that he had returned to his home home in Coweta County Georgia, after a day of visiting his mother to find his wife covered in blood in their home. While the 911 operator was sending help she was also asking him questions and giving him instructions to follow until EMT's could arrive. According to the 911 operator she had him touching and kneeling next to his wife. Investigators were almost immediately suspicious, not simply because he was the husband, or because he was the one to find the body of his now deceased wife, but because despite claiming his undying love to his wife, the “wonderful” relationship they had and telling the 911 operator he was checking on her and assisting in her care, there was not a drop of blood on him or his clothing. Cathy still had jewelry on her body and nothing seemed to be missing from the home. By the look of the scene, as well as the later coroner report that Cathy had suffered from over thirty stab wounds, this seemed to be a very personal attack.
Alec McNaughton and his wife, Cathy were married November 15, 2004. They were both in their fifties and while this was Cathy's second marriage, it was Alec's forth. They had met online. She lived in Georgia while he lived in Oklahoma. According to Cathy's two grown daughters the relationship went fast after they met and they were married less than a year later. If you were to ask Alec, and authorities did, their marriage was wonderful and loving and they had few problems, if any. That was not the story that Cathy's daughters, or her friends reported, but investigators had not gotten to them just yet. Alec would tell authorities that he had left the home somewhere between 11 and noon and had driven the hour drive to his mother's house. He reported that he had called and left a message on the machine when he got to his mother's home and had returned home to find Cathy in a pool of blood around 7:30. When asked if he knew of anyone who had a grudge against Cathy and would want her dead it seems he was quick to mention Cathy's ex-husband, Gary Mendenhall who lived in Texas but just so happened to be in town the day of Cathy's murder.
Despite the fact that no one else seemed to suspect Gary Mendenhall was involved in any way the investigators had to interview him. He was in town on February 15th. And, when they interviewed him they noticed a cut on his hand which made them suspicious. There was one more thing that did not look well for Gary, the car he rented when he got to town was a silver car and there had been talk of seeing a silver car at Cathy's home that day. The problem with that last point though was that Alec McNaughton also had a silver car and it seems that descriptions were not specific beyond that. As far as the cut on his hand, Gary claimed it came when he had hung a shelf or something while helping his daughter at her new apartment. Authorities of course had to look hard at Gary. He and Cathy had been married for twenty-one years before they had divorced and February 15th just so happened to be their wedding anniversary. Quickly however the investigators determined that there was no way that Gary Mendenhall could have killed Cathy. He simply did not have the time based on when he got to town and where he was positively seen at places seemingly acting normal and with no signs of blood or injuries.
While Gary was ruled out as a suspect investigators were back looking at Alec and from what they were hearing from others much of what they had heard from him was not true. According to friends and family not only was the marriage not the rosy affair Alec had described, there were allegations of physical abuse. Some of the couple's problems, according to family revolved around finances. When the couple had met Alec was an attorney in Enid Oklahoma but according to what he had told Cathy upon their marriage and his moving to Georgia he was “having issues” getting his law license in the state. I was unable to determine if he ever gave an explanation for this but in the end he began working as a car salesman. Cathy's daughters told investigators that Alec had always seemed “controlling and domineering.” One of the daughters told investigators about a time in May of 2006 when her mother had told her of an incident in which Cathy alleged Alec had beaten her. According to Cathy's daughter, Cathy told her that she was leaving for work one morning and Alec had followed her to the car while they were arguing. He had proceeded to attempt to get her keys and had drug her out of the car by her hair and drug her across the driveway. When confronted with this Alec would minimize the argument saying that it was a minor thing and that she had fallen off her heels and “got scuffed up.” By this time investigators had already found several disposable cameras and a secret file with notes seemingly hidden in the closet of the home. They were in the process of having the film developed and going through her notes when these new allegations brought up.
The file that was found in the closet in Cathy's handwriting had documentation of times Cathy alleged Alec had been violent towards her, including threats on her life. She had also documented any and all lies, and apparently there were many, he had told her over the years. Once the film in the cameras were developed the investigators were stunned to find they contained pictures of Cathy with bruises and scratches on different parts of her body. The problem facing investigators at this point was they had no idea when these pictures were taken or who took them. They knew they were close to being able to arrest Alec McNaughton for the murder of his wife, but they also knew that until the questions about the pictures were answered they would not be able to be admitted into a court of law. When they showed Alec the pictures he denied knowing when they were taken and indicated both then, and later in court, that they must have been injuries that her ex husband, Gary Mendenhall had done to her.
Less than two weeks had passed since the murder before investigators felt they had enough to arrest Alec. One of the other things that had come up were phone records. Alec had placed a call to the home at around 2:30 that afternoon and left a message on the answering machine. According to Alec he was at his mother's home, and that he had just gotten there. The latter part of his statement about the call never seemed to be addressed in any of the research. It was widely reported that Alec's mother lived about an hour away from their home and yet he had stated he left the home between 11 and noon and that when he placed the call he had just gotten to his mother's and yet no one seemed to question the fact that if he had just arrived, and he mentioned no other stops that he would not have left the house until around 1:30. But, in the end to investigators that matter less than the fact that according to cell phone records the call Alec made was not made from his mother's home but less than two miles from his own home. To this day Alec McNaughton maintains that he was at his mother's and the phone records are inaccurate. On February 27th officers arrested Alec and charged him with the murder of his wife.
Alec's trial took place in August of 2010. The prosecutors would maintain that Alec killed Cathy in a fit of rage, cleaned up himself, changed his clothes, went to his mothers home and then when he got home he called 911 pretending to have found his wife. Just before the trial they had finally found out who had taken those pictures of a bruised Cathy. It had been a woman who had been a counselor for Delta Airlines where Cathy had worked. She testified at the trial that Cathy had come to her and asked her to take the pictures as she was keeping documentation. When asked if Cathy told her how she got the injuries the woman stated she had, and that Cathy had said they were a result of a fight with her husband in which he had beaten her. The defense attempted to trip the woman up and indicate that Cathy could have meant her ex-husband but the woman stood firm in saying that it had been Alec McNaughton that Cathy was talking about.
The prosecutor also put all three of Alec's ex-wives on the stand. His first wife, a woman named Linda had divorced him forty years prior but she maintained that Alec had beaten her to the point that he had broke both her nose and her jaw. Alec has said this was a lie. His second wife was also named Linda. She testified that he threw her over a glass top table. While Alec maintains that his was not necessarily a lie he states that Linda over exaggerated her testimony and that he had simply pushed her and she fell. His third wife, Susan, was the mother of his daughter, Alexis, who had called 911 years prior. She testified about that incident and Alec's behavior. While Alec never seemed to really say the incident did not happen he does seemingly attempt to brush it off as if it was less of a deal as was described and that he was not as out of control as both his ex wife and his daughter stated. It appears that the police officer's calmed him down at the scene and simply took his gun. I believe he does not come right out and call this a lie because there was the 911 call made by his daughter and her death in 2006 had devastated him. To indicate that this incident never happened also would in effect call the daughter he loved a liar and for all his faults I do not think Alec McNaughton could bring himself to do that.
Whether Alec's siblings testified at his trial is unclear. There did seem to be testimony from investigators that they received calls from his siblings during the investigation and that they were all fearful of him as well as stated they believed that he had killed Cathy.
But even with all of the testimony that was presented about his behaviors in the past, none of it proved that he had killed Cathy. And, in my opinion I believe the jury would have had a hard time making a decision solely based on what little there was. In essence the only real evidence they had about that day revolved around the phone records and the lack of blood on Alec when EMT and police officers arrived. However, despite his lawyer adamantly telling him, as well as the court, that he disagreed with Alec testifying on his own behalf, he insisted on taking the stand. His lawyer asked him ONE question. That question was if he had killed his wife to which Alec answered no. His lawyer then took his seat and turned things over to the prosecutor.
This may seem like bad representation to some but if you know the law and how things are entered into the courts, and you know you have a client who does not know how to shut his mouth then you know his lawyer probably did the best that he could do. It is likely that his lawyer knew that Alec was not just going to simply answer the questions he was asked. He was going to elaborate on everything; he was going to ramble. It was very likely that Alec was going to say something to incriminate himself or open the door for the prosecutor to ask about things the lawyer did not wanted entered into the record. His lawyer probably thought it best that if his client was going to insist on testifying then he was going have to have to get him to say as little as possible on direct questioning and hope like hell Alec did not sink himself on cross examination by the prosecutor. Well, all the hoping in the world did not work because that is exactly what Alec did. In fact, in an article that I read it stated that his lawyer later said that as he was testifying he could see the looks on the jurors faces and knew they lost the case.
After deliberating for a day and a half the jury returned a verdict of guilty on all counts. He was given a life sentence for each of his charges of malice murder and felony murder and given an additional twenty years for the charge of aggravated assault.
Did Alec McNaughton murder his wife Cathy? I would have to say yes, more than likely. Do I think the evidence was there to convict? That I am not so sure about. Sure the phone records say he was not at his mothers, and his timeline is sketchy and in the end I would have probably voted to convict but I am unsure that I would have immediately or quickly came to that conclusion, that is until he testified. Once on the stand I do believe Alec McNaughton sealed his fate. His arrogance and his impression that he was superior to everyone else in the room is really what sunk him in my opinion.
His arrogance was not lost with the guilty verdict. He has done interviews since his conviction for shows like 48 Hours and he still attempts to manipulate the people and the audience. He continues to express his innocence. In 2012 the appeals court disagreed with him and denied his appeal.
On a side note I came across an interesting article that mentioned Alec McNaughton long before he became infamous as a wife killer. Back in 1995 there was an article out out Enid Oklahoma about an attorney named Stephen Jones. He was a well known, if not a well respected, attorney in the area and the article itself was about the fact that Jones was going to represent Timothy McVeigh, the man who would be convicted of orchestrating the Oklahoma City Bombing. Within the article it was mentioned that Jones and Alec McNaughton used to share a practice together. It indicated that Susan McNaughton, who was married to Alec at the time was also an attorney and possibly in the same practice. At some point it was mentioned that Jones and McNaughton had a falling out and went their separate ways. A while later they were both in front of the same judge. Each of them were representing opposite sides of a case and throughout the hearings the two lawyers had many clashes. One of those confrontations apparently ended with McNaughton hitting and punching Jones. There was no mention of any sanctions either lawyer faced for their actions but I found it interesting because Alec McNaughton has attempted to portray himself in court and in interviews as a very docile, mild mannered person. Despite all the testimony about his behavior presented in court he still attempted to indicate that this was the only issue he had and that the witnesses were lying. Well I think this article showed that he was not always the even keeled person that he wants people to believe he is.