Saturday, April 14, 2012

Bartow, FL: Woman Indicted in Death of Husband Buried in Backyard

BARTOW | For about 12 weeks, Benny Scott was buried in the backyard of his Lake Alfred home with rosemary and parsley growing over his makeshift grave.

On Tuesday, a grand jury indicted his wife, Barbara A. Scott, 64, on a charge of first-degree murder. She is accused of shooting her 77-year-old husband in the back of the head and burying him days later in the garden they had tended together.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said Tuesday that witnesses told investigators Barbara Scott was tired of looking after her husband.

"Benny was always needing and wanting her assistance," Judd said. "As he aged, he needed more attention. Barbara got tired of him."

The details surrounding the death began unraveling March 26 after Barbara Scott's daughter confronted her about her husband's whereabouts.

Sheriff's deputies and officers from the Lake Alfred Police Department unearthed the body March 27 at the home at 200 S. Goodman Ave. They found Benny Scott wrapped in a tarp, with a bag over his head and with his hands and feet bound together by ropes.

According to autopsy results, he died of a gunshot wound to the back of his head from a .22-caliber firearm and the death was ruled a homicide. Judd said deputies found a .22-caliber revolver wrapped in a towel in Barbara Scott's lingerie drawer.

Barbara Scott had told family members conflicting stories about her husband. She told some he was in Oklahoma visiting a friend. She told others he was too sick to speak on the phone.

But on March 26, after she was confronted by her daughter, Barbara Scott said he fell in the shower and died in early January. She said she buried him in their garden and planted herbs on top of the grave. Her daughter took her mother to authorities.

Judd said during a news conference Tuesday that Barbara Scott soon changed her story. She told officials her husband had killed himself and she had found a gun nearby. Judd said Barbara Scott kept her husband in the garage for a few days, then buried him in the garden.

Her lawyer, Rafael Echemendia, said Barbara Scott testified in front of the grand jury Tuesday and said her husband killed himself. She said she panicked and was embarrassed about the suicide.

Echemendia said she maintains she bound Benny Scott's feet and hands so she could move him more easily.

"She's maintaining her innocence and we are looking forward to testing the state's evidence," Echemendia said.

Barbara Scott was booked into the Polk County Jail on Tuesday afternoon and was held without bail. She is scheduled to have her first court appearance today.

The couple had been married since 2004 and moved from Oklahoma to Lake Alfred in 2009.

The Polk County Sheriff's Office said Barbara Scott previously was arrested in Oklahoma in 1987 on charges of embezzlement. She was convicted in 1988 and was released from prison in 1991. She had not been arrested in Polk County.

Echemendia said Benny Scott was diagnosed with heart disease and had complained about his quality of life. Barbara Scott is diagnosed with fibromyalgia, he said, and regularly uses pain medication. Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder that affects the muscles and causes widespread pain.

He said the pain medication could have taken a toll on Barbara Scott's mental health.

Judd said he was unaware of any mental health issues Barbara Scott had.

"I've done this for a long time," Judd said. "And this is one of the more bizarre cases."

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