He spoke matter-of-factly, his voice sometimes quaking with emotion, about his sister's plot to kill her landlord, Karen Jenkins.
In a court session Friday that pitted brother versus sister, Gary Lee said he didn't know much about Monique Lee's motive.
What he relayed to the jury was nonsensical at best.
Monique, who has a history of mental illness and drug use, spoke about some unnamed man and a promise that she would get money and a place to stay if she got rid of Jenkins for a few days. Jenkins, a college instructor with a doctorate, owned the building in which Lee stayed and was renovating the first-floor bar, Hank's Place.
Monique Lee's attorney, Douglas County Public Defender Tom Riley, has said the killing makes so little sense that it's clear that Lee was not guilty by reason of insanity.
Prosecutors Don Kleine and Brenda Beadle contend that not only was Monique Lee sane, but she also was incensed that Karen Jenkins was evicting her from her apartment.
“From my knowledge, Monique was supposed to kidnap Karen and hold her hostage for a couple of days, until the meeting was supposed to happen,” Gary Lee, 20, said of his sister's motive. “All she had to do was get rid of Karen for a couple of days so they could get in the building. Once the meeting was done, then we could let her go.”
The kidnapping quickly turned into a killing. Monique had Gary call Karen repeatedly about vacant Apartment No. 2, which sat next to Monique Lee's apartment in the building at 40th Street and Ames Avenue.
Finally, on Sunday morning, Oct. 17, 2010, Gary Lee said: “Monique woke me up and told me that I had to call Karen, that time was getting late.”
Jenkins and Gary Lee spoke by phone and arranged to meet at Apartment No. 2.
Gary, who had been staying in the apartment next-door to Monique, walked across the street to make it look like he was new to the area. Jenkins, 48, introduced herself.
“Are you Gary?” she said. “I'm Karen. Nice to meet you.”
The two then headed upstairs to the apartment.
After Jenkins opened the door, they walked inside the living room. Monique Lee pounced, hitting Jenkins on the head and dropping her to the floor. Monique then lay on top of Jenkins, with her arm across her neck.
“Monique, get off of me,” Jenkins yelled, before calling out to Gary. “Why are you letting her do this to me?”
Monique then wrapped a vacuum cleaner cord around her neck. Gary said Karen eventually stopped moving.
Monique asked Gary to feel Jenkins' heart, to see if she was dead. Gary Lee said he did — and Jenkins' body convulsed.
“I got scared because (Karen) knew Monique's name,” he said. “I was going to leave. Monique said, ‘No Gary, I need your help, I need your help.'
“So I held her legs down.”
Gary Lee said he tied a shoelace around Jenkins' neck to ensure she was dead. Monique then grabbed a suitcase that had Super Glue, tissue and a bedsheet inside.
She stuffed the tissue in Jenkins' mouth and Super Glue in her nose. She then grabbed a laundry bin to put Jenkins' body in. The two stuffed her in a closet in Monique's apartment.
“Did you ask her, ‘What are you doing?'” Kleine asked.
“No. … I never done nothing like this in my life. I was terrified.”
His voice broke.
“All I was supposed to do was get (Jenkins) to the building,” said Gary, who is testifying for the state after pleading guilty to a reduced charge of second-degree murder. “I ended up assisting her in killing the woman. I wasn't trying to ask any questions. I was trying to get out of there as quick as I can.”
The two never spoke of the killing again except that night, when they dumped Jenkins' body under a dilapidated house across the street.
In addition to Monique's motive, there was another mystery her brother couldn't unravel. Forensic experts doubted that Jenkins' body was under the porch the entire week of her disappearance. For one thing, the body hadn't decomposed enough. For another, Gary Lee said the body was found in a different position than it had been left.
Gary Lee said Monique left the apartment one night and didn't return until the wee hours of the morning.
“I know somebody moved the body because that's not the way I put the body under the house,” he said. “Who? I don't know.”
Monique Lee's trial is scheduled to resume Monday with psychiatrists' testimony about her mental state.
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