No courtroom outbursts as murder trial continues for minister's mistress

Palmer testified she lied to police several times about details in the murder of her married boyfriend's wife, Pauletta Burleson.

October 6, 2011 10:00:00 PM PDT
Things were a bit calmer Friday in the trial of a woman charged with taking part in a murder-for-hire plot.

For a couple of days now, we've heard family members and people watching this murder trial, comparing it to a circus because of the unexpected outbursts. The victim's family told us they just hope the jury stays focused on the facts.

As Tyonne Palmer sits on trial for capital murder, the courtroom is calmer. On Friday, Harris County deputies spent hours giving the jury details about a gun. Investigators say it's the alleged murder weapon used to kill Paulette Burleson. That gun was just one topic that lead the prosecution's star witness to lose his cool on Thursday.

"They asked me to kill my stepmomma, so they could get married," William Fuller testified.

In a series of explosive outbursts, we watched as the admitted killer told the court that Palmer bought him the gun he used to kill Pauletta Burleson in May of last year.

Fuller shouted that Palmer and his father -- ex-pastor Tracy Burleson who was just convicted on capital murder charges last week -- helped plan the murder so the two could get married.

"It's not good for the prosecution to have a witness out of control," said KTRK Legal Analyst Joel Androphy.

We asked Androphy what impact those angry outbursts from the prosecution's star witness this week could have on the jury and the prosecution's case against Palmer.

"There's a certain amount of theatrics that are OK, but when a witness crosses the line, and is totally out of control, like happened here, it's not a good thing. Then you start questioning the witness' credibility," Androphy said.

Palmer, who was the ex-pastor's mistress at the time of his wife's murder, has remained calm throughout this trial. She's accused of picking up Fuller after he shot the victim in the head execution style.

Investigators say she helped Fuller get rid of evidence. Deputies told the jury they found the gun one month after the murder. They got a tip the weapon was dumped off Normandy and Greens Bayou.

The jury has been sent home for the weekend. Palmer faces a life sentence if she's convicted.

Earlier developments

A former minister's mistress is on trial for murder. And more explosive testimony is expected today in the case against Tyonne, who is accused of helping Houston area Pastor Tracy Burleson and his son kill Burleson's wife, Pauletta.

The trial got underway shortly before 11am today, with a detective who investigated the case taking the stand first.

We expect to later hear from the victim's son, and possibly from the ex-pastor who ordered the murder of his wife.

Palmer, a mother of three, is accused of helping her lover's son plan the murder of Paulette Burleson. Palmer's lover, ex-pastor Tracy Burleson, was convicted last week of manipulating his own son, William Fuller, to kill his Pauletta for insurance money.

Prosecutors say Palmer was involved in the manipulation as well. She's accused of helping to plan the murder and hide the murder weapon.

Over the last two days, Fuller has taken the stand and testified against Palmer, often with dramatic outbursts. On Wednesday, it led to him being restrained and dragged out of court.

Palmer, who according to testimony, was the mistress of both father and son, is charged with capital murder and could spend the rest of her life in prison if convicted.

We could hear from Tracy Burleson on later in this trial.

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