SPOKANE, Wash. - The first day of trial for a woman accused of conspiring to kill her husband ended with the jury being played audio recordings of conversations between that woman, Martie Soderberg, and Martin Drake, the man police say she asked to carry out the hit.
Soderberg was arrested in October 2016. She and Drake, who met one summer when they were in high school, hadn't talked in 20 years when they connected on Facebook a few months prior.
The agreed to meet and catch up. Drake told the court their first meeting, and the conversations leading up to it, were mostly small talk.
During one meeting, though, the conversation shifted to her husband, Russell. The two had been married for fifteen years. Drake says Soderberg told him the first year or two they were happy but, since then, she said the relationship had become abusive.
Drake said Soderberg indicated she wanted out of the relationship, but she didn't have the finances to leave. He said she told him that she wanted her husband "gone" and, over the course of their next few meetings, offered options for how to kill him.
She suggested the two of them would then move away from the area, Drake said. He also said she planned to claim her husbands $300,000 life insurance policy.
"I realized at that moment that she was dead serious about wanting this guy killed," he said during testimony Tuesday.
Drake said he asked Soderberg to drop him off. He called police and told them what happened.
Eventually, he met with detectives John Oliphant and Marc Melville. He agreed to wear a wire for future conversations with Soderberg. The jury heard some of that audio during trial on Tuesday. They also saw surveillance video, taken by the detectives, of the two leaving one of their meet-ups.
Several days after the initial conversation, Drake and detectives arranged for a meeting with Soderberg with the intention of collecting money for a firearm. Drake said Soderberg had mentioned the need for a firearm that could not be traced back to them- and that he could later conceal by mixing it into concrete.
Oliphant testified that there was never an actual weapon- but that Soderberg gave Drake the $50 he said he needed. Once he gave the money to the detectives, they arrested Soderberg.
Soderberg has pleaded not-guilty to first degree conspiracy to solicit murder. It's unclear as of now whether she will take the stand in her own defense.
She is also facing other, unrelated, charges that are expected to see trial in May. One of those charges is arson- court documents say she asked a friend to set fire to her mobile home while they were out of town- so she could claim the insurance money.
Trial continues on Wednesday. The jury is expecting to hear from Russell Soderberg, among other witnesses.
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