- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 8, 2014

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) - The murder trial for a snowplow driver charged with killing a popular teacher after luring her from her home began Wednesday with a prosecutor saying the suspect gave a detailed confession and the defense blaming the man’s wife.

In opening statements in Vermont Superior Court in Burlington, Caledonia County State’s Attorney said Allen Prue and his wife began planning the crime long before Melissa Jenkins was strangled on a Sunday night in March 2012.

She said police were led to the couple by a business card for Allen Prue’s snow-plowing business that was found in her home, and by a message Jenkins had given to a friend when she was suspicious of a call from the Prues about their broken down vehicle.

“He tells police they went out Sunday night to ‘get a girl.’ They wanted somebody they could play with,” Warren said. “As detectives continually push him to be truthful, he ultimately confesses to murdering Mellissa Jenkins with his wife.”

But defense attorney Robert Katims painted a picture of a simple-minded country boy with an IQ of 75 who was awed by his wife Patricia Prue, a woman he met online with a long history of psychiatric troubles. He said detectives forced the confession during a seven-hour long interview.

“The evidence will show Patricia Prue strangled Melissa Jenkins,” Katims said. “In her crazy, twisted mind she had become obsessively jealous of Melissa Jenkins. The evidence will show that Patricia Prue strangled Melissa Jenkins without telling him she was going to do it, without planning it with him and without Allen Prue aware in any way shape or form.”

Allen Prue has pleaded not guilty to charges of first degree murder and kidnapping in the death of Jenkins, a 33-year-old teacher at St. Johnsbury Academy. Patricia Prue, 34, is charged with aggravated murder and other charges. She will be tried separately.

Jenkins, a single mother, was reported missing on March 25, 2012, after her vehicle was found idling on her rural road with her 2-year-old son inside. The next day, her nude, strangled and beaten body was found dumped in the Connecticut River in a remote spot.

The killing shocked the Northeast Kingdom, an area where violent crime had been rare.

Allen Prue, who had plowed her driveway, and his wife were arrested two days after Jenkins was killed.

The trials were moved out of Caledonia County.

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