Missouri woman could face 2 trials in antifreeze deaths after murder, other charges severed

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SPRINGFIELD, Missouri — A southwest Missouri woman accused of killing two family members by slipping antifreeze into their drinks could have two trials after a judge approved a motion to sever two murder counts from other charges.

Diane Staudte, 52, of Springfield, appeared in Greene County court Tuesday with her attorney Charles Moreland for a hearing on several motions, including one by Moreland to have the murder charges tried separately from assault and armed criminal action.

Moreland argued the charges could be separated because Staudte is not a prior offender and the charges weren't presented as an alternative to murder, The Springfield News-Leader (http://sgfnow.co/1oaXTSd ) reported. In his motion filed last week, Moreland said the state could try all the counts together if it was willing to waive the death penalty.

Prosecutors, who have said they intend to seek a death sentence, did not object to severing the charges.

Staudte's daughter, Rachel Staudte, also is facing the same four charges, but prosecutors haven't said whether they will seek the death penalty for her.

The two are accused of poisoning Diane Staudte's husband, Mark Staudte, 61, who died in April 2012, and her son, Shaun Staudte, 26, who died five months later. Officials found no evidence of foul play in either of the deaths.

They also are accused of poisoning another daughter, Sarah Staudte, who was 24 at the time, in June 2013. Soon afterward, an anonymous call to police urged them to investigate why Sarah Staudte suddenly became ill, and why her brother and father had died.

Diane and Rachel Staudte were charged two weeks later.

According to the probable cause statement, Diane Staudte told investigators that she poisoned her husband with antifreeze because she hated him and killed her son because he was "worse than a pest." She also admitted poisoning Sarah Staudte over four days because "she would not get a job and had student loans that had to be paid," investigators said.

Diane Staudte initially took complete blame for all three poisonings, but the next day Rachel Staudte admitted to police that she had been involved in them, as well.

A date for Diane Staudte's trial has not been set, but is likely to be more than a year from now, according to attorneys in the case. Rachel Staudte's jury trial is set for March.


Information from: Springfield News-Leader, http://www.news-leader.com

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