Wolfmeyer's trial opens
EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. -- A woman charged with helping Mike Danton try to arrange a murder for hire was an unknowing "pawn" in the pro hockey player's plans to have his agent killed, her lawyer told jurors Tuesday.
Katie Wolfmeyer, 19, who had a brief relationship with the former St. Louis Blues player, is charged in federal court with conspiring to arrange a murder for hire and using a telephone across state lines to arrange it.
"Our evidence will be that Katie was just a pawn," said her attorney, Art Margulis, in opening statements.
But Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Clark said in his opening statement that Wolfmeyer was a willing participant in the plot to kill Danton's agent, David Frost.
"The evidence will show she contributed to a murder-for-hire plot so she could continue an affair ... with Mike Danton," Clark said.
Danton pleaded guilty in July to trying to hire a hit man for $10,000 to kill Frost at Danton's suburban St. Louis apartment. He faces sentencing Oct. 22. The judge in the case has ruled that Danton does not have to testify against Wolfmeyer.
Frost was not hurt and he maintains he was not the intended target. But authorities said Danton and Frost had argued over Danton's alleged promiscuity and alcohol use, and Danton feared Frost would talk to team management.
Clark told jurors Wolfmeyer was with friends on April 14 when she received a phone call from Danton asking if she knew of anyone who could help carry out a plot, Clark said.
Clark said Wolfmeyer gave the cell phone to Justin Levi Jones and Danton then asked him about arranging a killing.
But as it happens, Jones, whom Wolfmeyer had just met, was a police dispatcher from Illinois. Jones began taping conversations with Danton and notified police, who alerted the FBI.
FBI Special Agent Martin Feely said Jones was given a disabled gun without a firing pin in it and fitted with recording equipment before he went to meet Wolfmeyer and head to Danton's apartment for the planned killing.
Feely described a recording made during that ride. "She expressed some hope that after this was over, Mr. Danton would owe her big," he said.
Margulis said Wolfmeyer discovered it was a murder-for-hire plot only after she took Jones to Danton's apartment.
On one recording, Wolfmeyer notes that Danton had not told her what was going to happen.
When Jones told her he had to pick up a gun, her response was only, "Oh, gee." Later, she said she didn't want to see the weapon. "I don't like violence," she said.
Wolfmeyer also told Jones that Danton had never given her his phone number. She added that "this" had better result in Danton giving her the number.
Danton, who spent the 2003-04 season with St. Louis, was not re-signed by the Blues.
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press