By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer
LEXINGTON - Adele Craven admitted to a torrid affair with a handyman remodeling the basement of her Edgewood home but denied she had her lover kill Stephen Craven nearly 2‡ years ago.
Ms. Craven, testifying in her own defense Tuesday at her murder trial, said the handyman, Russell "Rusty" McIntire, 34, of Erlanger, must have been upset she broke off the affair to reconcile her marriage. She said Mr. McIntire deceived her, seduced her and robbed her of a comfortable lifestyle by killing Mr. Craven, a Delta Air Lines pilot.
"I will always be responsible for Stephen's death because I had an affair with Rusty McIntire," Ms. Craven said. "Rusty either killed Steve or had Steve killed. But I did not tell Rusty to do it. I did not tell Rusty to hire anyone to do it."
Ms. Craven spoke softly from the stand, often fighting back tears.
"I told Steve I was going to leave if we didn't go to counseling and at least try to get along," Ms. Craven said. "All we did was hurt each other. We couldn't talk anymore. We were both so angry and hurt."
The 39-year-old woman spent about six hours on the stand answering questions about evidence the prosecution presented against her during the previous three weeks of testimony. Ms. Craven could receive the death penalty if convicted of murder in the death of Mr. Craven, 38.
The case appears to be coming down to whether the jury believes Ms. Craven or Mr. McIntire, who testified against her in exchange for life in prison without the possibility of parole for 25 years.
Mr. McIntire previously testified that he not only hired a hit man at Ms. Craven's request, but that she orchestrated the "hit" carried out on July 12, 2000.
The hit man, Ronald Scott Pryor, has already been found guilty of murder and could be sentenced to death next month.
Ms. Craven's neighbors, friends and relatives have testified they heard her talk about hiring a hit man. But Ms. Craven said she made these statements in a fit of rage or as a joke.
Ms. Craven said her marriage broke down in constant arguments that Mr. McIntire - then a Delta ramp worker - would hear while remodeling their basement.
"The affair wasn't about sex, it was about me feeling better about myself," Ms. Craven said.
During cross-examination, Co-prosecutor Christina Brown of the Attorney General's Office asked why a "church-going woman who believed in God, read the Bible and was familiar with the Ten Commandments would start a casual affair with the handyman."
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