Victim's widow speaks out about portrayal leading up to double-murder retrial
Denise Horner [Peninsula Daily News photo]
By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News
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Stenson's lawyers have claimed in court documents that law enforcement should have investigated her in her husband's death and that authorities trained their sights too quickly on Stenson.
Hoerner called the Peninsula Daily News last week to talk about the case.
“I've had enough of it,” she said.
“I'm physically sick, emotionally and mentally sick.
“This whole thing is just a mockery of the courts.
“As far as I'm concerned, I just want to get my voice out there.”
Hoerner said she was acceding to her family's request not to have a photo of her taken for this article on the high-profile case, which begins Monday with jury selection.
Stenson is accused of murdering his own wife, Denise, on that same March 25 date he allegedly killed Denise Hoerner's husband, Frank, also Darold Stenson's business partner.
Denise Hoerner, 46, has been called as a witness for the prosecution and is expected to testify during the first week of testimony, scheduled to begin Sept. 23.
That means she can be cross-examined by the defense.
Stenson's lawyers “will present a number of witnesses and other evidence” that will depict Hoerner as “a legitimate other suspect,” according to a court document they filed Wednesday.
They said she had an unhappy marriage, told a friend she would “take the SOB for everything he has” and saw lawyers about seeking a divorce.
They said she showed her prenuptial agreement to girlfriends and said “the only way she could get anything out of the marriage was to kill Frank” and talked to people about killing her husband for insurance money.
After the murders, her actions were suspicious, according to the filing Wednesday.
Hoerner left her young son with a friend and went to Hawaii on vacation with a male friend, which she does not dispute.
Pictures from the trip include one with her in a bathing suit, lying on the hood of a Ferrari she rented, which she also does not dispute.
In her own court filings regarding Denise Hoerner, Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney Deb Kelly called much of the evidence that Stenson's defense team will offer at the trial hearsay.
There was nothing romantic about the trip to Hawaii, according to Steve Koffel, the male friend she went with, Kelly said.
The purpose of the trip was to get her away from the area “because she was emotionally falling apart,” Kelly said.
At a court hearing Sept. 10, Superior Court Judge S. Brooke Taylor said Hoerner's actions after the murders “may very well be relevant.”
In addition, statements about her financial motives may be admissible “unless they are blatant hearsay,” he added.
Taylor will rule on the admissibility of statements Hoerner is said to have made as those rulings are needed during the trial, he said.
In her interview last week with the PDN, Hoerner said she was “very close” to her husband.
“I personally feel disgusted the lawyers are attacking me,” she said.
“It has to be the grossest, dirtiest, most hellish thing a person can do.”
Lead defense attorney Roger Hunko did not return calls Friday about the case.
The two couples were friends, though court documents say the business relationship between Frank Hoerner and Darold Stenson was souring.
Hoerner said she tried committing suicide after her husband and Denise Stenson were murdered.
“I tried taking my life, and my son walked in and caught me,” she said.
Her family paid for the Hawaii trip with a man she said was one of her closest friends, Koffel, according to court documents. Koffel also is being called as a witness, she said.
The trip was an effort to calm her down, Hoerner said.
“Prior to that [trip], I wasn't in my right mind,” she said.
“It makes me beyond sick that my family could do such a wonderful thing for me, and [Stenson's lawyers] turn it into something snaky and garish,” she said.
Her marriage to Frank “was beyond wonderful,” Hoerner said.
“People can say and talk what they want, they are just words.
“All the memories of my husband are beyond the best, and our relationship was magical, and anyone that knows us would say the same thing.
“No matter what they say or do to me, they can't take any of that from me.”
The couple were together for about five years and married for one.
“He was a magical man,” Hoerner said.
“The hardest thing is the good memories.
“They are fabulous, but the good memories kick your ass.
“That's all that people are doing: They are making me miss Frank and Denise.”
Ultimately, she will be better off than Stenson, she said.
“I know I will see them in heaven, and he won't,” Hoerner said.
She said she has no doubt Stenson will be convicted of the murders and spend the rest of his life in prison.
“As far as I'm concerned, I think that's great, so he can think, every year in March, of exactly what he did.
“I think he should live with it.
“He is vermin, just vermin.”
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at email@example.com.
Last modified: September 14. 2013 6:13PM