Starr brothers teacher murder trial hinges on circumstantial evidence

The trial centers around the killing of Enterprise fourth grade teacher Sara Starr, with her husband alleged to have masterminded the crime.
Published: Sep. 11, 2023 at 7:38 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WTVY) - Nearly six years after two shotgun blasts killed Enterprise school teacher Sara Starr, her former husband and his brother face trial on charges they conspired to kill her.

During opening arguments on Monday, federal prosecutor Chelsea Phillips told jurors while physical evidence is lacking, there is enough circumstantial evidence implicating Jason and Darrin Starr to convict them.

They believe that Jason paid his brother to drive from Texas to Coffee County, Alabama to kill his wife, to whom a judge ordered him to give thousands of dollars monthly in spousal and child support. Prosecutors claimed he also had to provide Sara Starr with a portion of his military retirement.

They believe Jason Starr transferred money to Darin through Zelle, a third-party banking application, payments that included buying Darin the motorcycle he drove on the morning Sara Starr, 36, died.

However, defense attorneys Aimee Cobb Smith and Jim Parkman claimed no evidence conclusively implicates the defendants.

“(This case) is like a pancake—there are two sides to it,” Parkman said during his openings, borrowing a line from his successful defense of HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy nearly 20 years ago.

Likewise, Smith told jurors that prosecutors lack concrete evidence that the Starrs conspired to kill Sara Starr, shot as she returned to class at Harrand Creek Elementary School after Thanksgiving holidays in 2017.

They said the Zelle transactions were recorded into Jason Starr’s bank records, implicating he would have better covered his tracks had he wanted his wife, with whom he had four children, dead.

Smith said Darrin Starr traveled to Alabama not to kill his former sister-in-law but to visit his 75-year-old mother in frail mother.

The only witness to testify Monday was Sara Starr’s coworker, who described finding her body after Sara failed to report for work.

U.S. District Judge R. Austin Huffaker told jurors the trial will likely not conclude until next week.

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