For a week, Damian Skipper made multiple trips to the hospital to treat extreme abdominal pain, which he thought might be food poisoning after his “wife” left a plate of ribs on the counter for too long before refrigerating them.
On June 30, 2015, officials responded to Skipper’s Baton Rouge, La., home where they discovered he was not breathing and did not have a pulse. He was pronounced dead due to natural causes, according to a court document obtained by PEOPLE.
Less than a year later, law enforcement discovered Skipper’s wife Meshell Hale was his girlfriend — and she was actually married to Arthur Noflin, whose body was discovered inside his burning truck.
Law enforcement began an investigation into both deaths and issued search warrants for Hale’s computers and phones.
“Searches of her electronic devices revealed Bing searches concerning barium acetate, purchases of barium acetate on her PayPal account and shipments of barium acetate to her residence,” according to the court document. “Detectives also learned that Arthur Noflin was hospitalized twice after Damian’s death with the identical symptoms.”
Law enforcement exhumed Skipper’s body and discovered “extreme levels of barium” in his body. His death was reclassified a homicide and Hale was arrested on June 5, 2018. She pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and remains in jail.
Meanwhile, she received $10,000 from Skipper’s life insurance policy. She allegedly filed to receive $750,000 from Noflin’s life insurance policy, but a separate judge put the case on hold until she completes the current criminal case, according to an article at The Advocate.
Last week, state prosecutors filed a motion to introduce evidence regarding the death of Noflin in her case about Skipper’s death, according to the court document.
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“[T]he murder of Arthur Noflin constitutes an integral act in the murder of Damian Skipper because it is so intertwined with the offense charged that the state could not accurately present its case without reference to it,” prosecutors state in the document.
“If the state gets what it is asking … and is allowed to offer evidence related to the New Orleans case into the Skipper trial, there is a very real and substantial risk that the jury will be misled,” John Russell, one of Hale’s attorneys, told The Advocate website.
Joel Porter, another attorney representing Hale, told the reporter that “the state ‘does not have confidence in their so-called evidence in the Skipper case.'”
In response, District Attorney Hillar Moore III told The Advocate, “The state intends to use all legally admissible evidence to assist the jury to understand the full scope of relationship between the facts of the murder case charged as well as other uncharged but intertwined behavior of this defendant.”
Hale is scheduled to appear at her next motion hearing on Jan. 13. No trial date has been set.