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BEDFORD — A jury found a wife who killed her husband guilty of first-degree murder and tampering with physical evidence Friday afternoon.
Nancy Focht, 75, shot her husband, David Focht Sr., in a shed on their property after a verbal dispute on Sept. 11, 2018.
After the verdict was read, Presiding Judge Travis Livengood revoked Focht’s bail, scheduled her sentencing for October 27, and ordered a presentence investigation.
Dickey called Focht to the stand Friday to testify in her own defense. She detailed decades of alleged abuse, often becoming emotional, which she said began shortly after she became pregnant with her first child in 1966.
“I never knew what was going to happen,” she said.
Focht testified that her husband had a temper and that there were threats with weapons, including an incident when she woke up to him pointing a gun behind her ear, saying that if she thought about leaving him, he would kill her.
She said David served in Vietnam and that he told her he was trained to kill in many different ways and “no one would know.”
“He said he could shoot me from any window in the house,” Focht said. “I don’t know how to explain the constant fear for my life.”
Focht testified that she also suffered mental abuse, that she owned two cars but was not allowed to leave, and that she had filed a claim against him in the past for protection from abuse.
When Dickey asked why she didn’t leave, Focht said she didn’t believe in divorce.
I also asked Dickie how she felt about her husband over the years, and she responded that she loved him and that she still loved and cared for him.
“No matter what, I thought one day he would love me,” Focht told the jury.
After his heart attack and triple bypass surgery, Focht said he wanted her to promise not to send him back to the hospital.
She said they had a $249,000 hospital bill, about $1,000 of which they had to pay, and were given a $50 a month payment plan.
On Sept. 11, 2018, Focht said she and her husband got into an argument about cutting that turned into an argument about medical bills. She said she decided “at some point” to go get a gun because she had asked him to stay at his sister’s to rest all day, but he wouldn’t leave.
Focht allegedly told her that the next time she would see him wearing his wedding ring would be while she was in her coffin, which frightened her, so she sat in a chair in their garage with the gun next to her. A garage is what most people call a shed.
When Dickey asked what happened next, Focht said her husband must have seen the gun because he came to her with his hands up and she got up to try to leave, but he got really close. She said she fired a warning shot but he “did not stop” and that she “did not realize it had exploded again.”
“One more step and he would have had me,” Focht said.
When Dickey asked why she didn’t shoot him again, she said she didn’t mean to shoot him at that time.
Dickey also questioned her on why she lied to the police until physical evidence proved her story impossible. She said she was “very afraid of going to prison for something that was just an accident and losing her family.”
When asked if she would benefit from her husband’s death, Focht said he had no life insurance and that there was no profit to be made from their estate.
Upon questioning, Deputy District Attorney Philip McCarthy took Focht back to the beginning of her marriage to review the incidents of domestic violence in chronological order. They established that several separate incidents described throughout the proceedings occurred in 1966, 1988, 1991, 1993 and 2004.
McCarthy said he wanted to move on to Sept. 11, 2018. He told Focht she lied about that day, and said she did. McCarthy then reviewed the events as they had previously been laid out.
“You shot your husband, he was lying on the ground, you called 911, and your first instinct was to lie to the operator?” McCarthy asked.
Focht seemed surprised by the question, denied it and asked McCarthy if he was serious. I then asked McCarthy if she had said from the beginning that she was the one who fired the first shot, and she said yes. He later read from transcripts of the 911 call that showed Focht told the operator that David fired the first shot.
When McCarthy asked if Focht expected the jury to believe her today after everything she lied about, she said yes “because it’s the truth.”
Dickey earlier in the day called David Focht II to the stand to ask about an incident.
Dickey described an incident in which his father allegedly had a gun and the police came and took him away. Focht II said that he “didn’t see him holding it” and that he “didn’t even remember how long it had been.”
“I never saw him carry the gun,” Focht II said. “I was outside and I asked him to put it down.”
Dickey asked if he denied telling police he saw his father with the gun, which Focht II said he did not deny, but did not remember.
Once Focht II obtained a copy of the police report, he saw that the incident had occurred more than 30 years ago.
McCarthy asked if Focht II remembered the incident.
“Accurately according to the dates on the form,” Focht II said, adding that he was 25 years old when it happened and that he is 57 years old now.
Before the conclusion of the arguments, Livengood made the decision that the castle doctrine would not apply to the case because the garage was not a house/home in which the Vochts lived. Therefore, Focht had a duty to retreat.
In conclusion, Dickey focused on the abuse Focht suffered throughout her marriage and downplayed her attempt to cover up her crimes.
“The commonwealth is going to go after lie, lie, lie, lie, lie because that’s all they have,” Dickey said.
He said the only thing she lied about was how the shooting happened, and that if she wanted to kill him, all she had to do was walk up to him and pull the trigger again, but she didn’t.
Dickey asked the jury to return a not guilty verdict of first- or third-degree murder because the commonwealth did not meet its burden of proof.
During his closing remarks, McCarthy pointed out inconsistencies in the various stories Focht told police.
“The defendant’s story doesn’t make sense,” McCarthy said. “Nancy intentionally shot and killed David Focht Sr. This is a clear case of first-degree murder.”
McCarthy noted that the last reported incident of domestic violence occurred 19 years ago; that on the day that Focht Sr. was murdered, Focht never said that her husband had said the words “I will kill you”; She shot him in the chest. She put the gun on his leg and filmed the scene; She was able to get out of the shed. And that she lied to 911, the police, and her children.
McCarthy said Focht Sr. was a beaten man with a heart attack that had hurt Focht in the past, and he couldn’t stand up for himself and didn’t want to go back to the doctor, so he was “becoming the biggest burden” so “I took that burden off.”
“If you look at the totality of the circumstances, the defendant was not afraid,” McCarthy said. “It was not self-defense.”
The jury began deliberations at approximately 4 p.m., asked for clarification on the different definitions of degrees of murder, and returned to deliberating and returned a verdict at approximately 5:30 p.m.
“We are very pleased with the ruling, and we are thrilled that justice has finally been served for the Focht family,” McCarthy said.
He said Focht had previously rejected a plea agreement for eight to 20 years in prison. Dickey said he was disappointed with the outcome and plans to file an appeal. He also said he had issues with the judge’s decision on the castle doctrine, saying Focht had no duty to recant.
Focht’s family refused to comment on the outcome of the trial.
Mirror staff writer Rachel Fuhr at 814-946-7458.
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