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Former Minister Guilty Of Murder

January 21, 2000, 12:00 AM

A Huron jury took just 5 hours to find Presbyterian preacher Bill Guthrie guilty of first degree murder in the death of his wife last summer.
The prosecution said Guthrie put sleeping pills in his wife's hot chocolate, leading to her drowning in the bathtub. And prosecutors say that wasn't his first try. KELO-LAND's Beth Fuller runs down the list of suspicious evidence in our top story.

When Bill Guthrie was dumped by his mistress last March, prosecutors say the Guthrie's home became a dangerous place for his wife Sharon. They label the first close call, "the string incident".

The couple comes home at night, to find the light in the back stairs burned out. Sharon says Bill told her to go downstairs. She says a string pulled across the staircase makes her trip. But instead of falling down the stairs, she catches her balance and sits down.

Prosecutors call what happened the next month, a practice run for the sleeping pill overdose that would kill her. Sharon goes to the hospital, complaining of feeling groggy. The doctor can't find a cause.

Weeks later, a lamp falls into the tub while Sharon's under the water, rinsing her hair. She jumps out in time, and says Bill told her the dog pushed it in. It was in that bathtub Sharon's body was found a month later. Drowned after a sleeping pill overdose.

The defense calls it suicide. Prosecutors call it murder.

One of the trial's last witnesses was a national computer expert who looked through Gurthrie's computer memory.
He says a typed suicide note Guthrie produced earlier this week, was created from a draft saved August 7th, three months after Guthrie's wife died. Guthrie will get life in prison when he's sentenced.

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