(news-leader.com) - A woman accused of poisoning her family β two members fatally β with antifreeze could have parts of her case heard by two different juries.
Diane Staudte, 52, appeared in court Tuesday with her attorney, Charles Moreland, who made a motion to have two murder charges severed from charges of assault and armed criminal action.
According to prosecutors, she killed her husband because "she hated him" and her son because he was "worse than a pest."
Citing state law, Moreland argued the charges could be separated because Staudte is not a prior offender, and the charges weren't presented as an alternative to murder. Chief Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Todd Myers did not object.
In the motion filed last week, Moreland added that the state could try all the counts together if it was willing to waive the death penalty β something also spelled out in state law. Prosecutors have already said they intend to seek the death penalty.
If both cases move to trial, one jury would potentially be tasked with determining if Staudte was guilty of murder, while another would have the role of determining guilt on the other two charges.
Staudte's daughter, Rachel Staudte, is also facing four charges including murder, but prosecutors have not indicated they are seeking the death penalty.
Authorities say the two poisoned their family members by putting antifreeze in their drinks. Another daughter, Sarah Staudte, was hospitalized because of antifreeze poisoning, officials say.
Diane Staudte's husband, Mark, was the first to die in 2012. She told authorities her husband had been sick but refused to go to the hospital. Officials initially found no evidence of foul play.
Five months later, son Shaun Staudte was found dead. Police received an anonymous tip that Diane Staudte might have killed him. She again told officials he had been sick. After an autopsy was performed, his death was originally determined to be natural.
In June, another anonymous call to police urged them to investigate why Sarah Staudte suddenly became ill and why her brother and father had died.
Less than two weeks later, Diane and Rachel Staudte were each charged with two counts of murder and one count each of first-degree assault and armed criminal action.
Moreland, who is part of the state's capital defense team β employed when someone is facing the death penalty β argued several other motions on Tuesday, mostly involving how specific prosecutors must be in providing information before trial.
He did argue, successfully, that Diane Staudte be allowed to appear in her own clothing without visible shackles.
She appeared Tuesday in jail garb, but was allowed to have handcuffs removed after Judge Thomas Mountjoy allowed it.
A date for Diane Staudte's trial has not been set, but is likely to be more than a year from now, according to attorneys in the case. Rachel Staudte's jury trial is set for March.