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Plea Hearing Set for Clay Waller

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Clay Waller

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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Just days after Jacque Waller’s body was found on a Mississippi River island, a plea hearing has been scheduled for Thursday for her estranged husband, who is accused of killing the southeast Missouri mother of triplets.

The hearing, scheduled for 1:30 p.m. in Jackson, was listed Tuesday on the state’s online court reporting system. Waller was charged last year with first-degree murder, even though his 39-year-old wife’s body had not been found at that time. He pleaded not guilty.

A large crowd is expected at the hearing. Kathy Sweeney of KFVS-TV, acting as media liaison for the hearing, said there will be heavy security inside and outside the courtroom, including metal detectors.

Officials at the Cape Girardeau County prosecutor’s office declined comment. Messages seeking comment from Waller’s attorney, public defender Christopher Davis, were not returned.

The couple’s triplets, now 7 years old, live with Jacque Waller’s sister, Cheryl Brenneke.

Authorities have offered no details about what led them to the island where Jacque Waller’s body was found. The discovery was announced Thursday.

Authorities said the couple had been living apart for about three months she was living in Ste. Genevieve County, he was living in Jackson when they met with an attorney about their pending divorce on June 1, 2011. Police said they argued then about financial problems.

Jacque Waller’s relatives became worried later than evening when they had not heard from her. Her father, Stan Rawson, has said his daughter had previously confided to Brenneke that Clay Waller had threatened her.

Jacque Waller’s Honda Pilot was found along Interstate 55 a day after she disappeared. Subsequent searches turned up sporadic leads, including her purse near where the car was found.

The FBI said last year that Clay Waller suggested to his father that he had broken Jacque Waller’s neck and buried her in a hole that he had dug in advance. But Clay Waller has not made any confession to police, and his father died before he could testify.

At a preliminary hearing in July, then-prosecutor Morley Swingle outlined a case built largely around circumstantial evidence: potential motives of both jealousy and greed; blood splatter at Clay Waller’s house; apparent efforts to hide a blood-stained carpet in a crawl space; and Waller’s history of anger and resentment toward his wife.

During the hearing, Edwin Rhodes, an acquaintance of Clay Waller, recalled that about two months before Jacque Waller’s disappearance, Clay Waller told him, “I ought to just kill her.”

Clay Waller pleaded guilty in late 2011 to threatening Brenneke over the Internet. He is serving a five-year federal term for the threat.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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