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She testified that she rushed to Natchez after work one afternoon and found Heard deeply depressed and his trailer excessively dirty. She began driving back and forth to stay with him until finally she gave up her residency at Birmingham to move into the trailer, where she cooked and cleaned.

"We had a finite agreement," she said, that she would stay long enough to get him back on his feet but would return to San Diego at the turn of the year. After a month, though, she realized Heard's depression was dangerous and by Christmas was convinced she should take him with her when she left.

On December 28, 1995, she drove him from Natchez to his apartment in Little Rock. Six days later she called 911 from there to report Bill Heard dead from a gunshot wound to the chest.

Prosecutor Raney argued that Davis placed the revolver to Heard's chest and coldly pulled the trigger after realizing he had been scheming to reunite with her arch rival, Donna Baker. Raney said Baker and Heard had reconciled by Christmas of 1995 and were making plans to meet in Little Rock as soon as Davis was out of the way. Davis found out and on New Year's Eve, Raney alleged, argued fiercely with Heard, possibly breaking a window.

Kimberly Davis had an "abject hatred" of Baker, Raney said, causing a flurry of scribbling among the TV reporters in the spectators' pews. (They were, in fact, unpadded Baptist pews with hymnal and Communion-jigger brackets on the back; and they very much need to be bolted to the floor, but it's carpeted.)

While denying that she hated "any human being," Davis did admit that she had repeatedly referred to Baker as a "slut" and a "whore." She denied, however, ever calling Baker a "Cherokee whore" or a "bar slut."

On the afternoon Heard died, "Kimberly Davis was a scorned woman," Raney said. Overhearing him on the phone to Baker or perhaps punching redial and hearing Baker answer the phone, she flew into a cold fury, murdered Heard, and then pretended he'd shot himself. But she panicked and gave police conflicting statements.

At first police believed her, and Dr. Frank Peretti, the state's pathologist who autopsied Heard, ruled the death a suicide. But when the trace evidence lab reported she had tested positive for gunshot residue and the dead man had not, they began to look twice at her statements. The position of the gun -- not measured at the scene but only inferred from forensic photographs -- fed suspicion. The gun was found under a baby grand piano and "three or four feet" behind and to the left of the love seat where Davis said she'd found Heard's corpse.

Peretti reassessed the manner of death as "pending." Later, after much debate among the state's four pathologists, he upgraded the manner of death once more to "undetermined." Two years later, Davis was charged.

The defense characterized Davis as an "innocent, caring woman" who tried to help a deeply depressed man she'd once lived with, a weak-willed, drug-wrecked man evincing "flagrant psychotic symptoms" who had repeatedly said he might shoot or stab himself in the chest.

The defense scored points, jurors said, by getting Donna Baker to admit on the stand that Heard had told her if he ever did kill himself, he would use a method that wouldn't mess up his face, such as pills or a gunshot to the chest.

Davis insisted that she had not fought with Heard on New Year's Eve but was merely "very disappointed" that he wanted to see Baker and her daughter, Erika. "It concerned me that some of his noncommittal attitude might have something to do with her, and I asked him about that. And he said that he was just all mixed up, those were his words, 'all mixed up.' "

Davis added, "And I was like, 'Okay.' I was disappointed and hurt in a way...but I was not angry. But it was kinda like, well, if that's what you want to do, that's what you want to do."

She left to stay with a friend but returned after Heard called her there. They sat up late talking about how "he had no intention of getting back with Donna." On New Year's Day they went to see The American President and talked again until 3:00 a.m.

Davis testified Heard told her he'd brought his gun to the apartment and made her promise not to look for it. She was gravely worried about his suicidal "ideation" and the gun, and that's why she felt it imperative to get him to San Diego for treatment.

She said they had discussed other treatment options such as having his brother Bruce drive him to a therapist in Baton Rouge, but Heard agreed he'd rather go with her to find someone she trusted to treat his "major depression."

Raney, an attractive blonde with powerful-looking shoulders and an appearance of firmly controlled outrage on cross-examination, paused over this. Hadn't Davis told another witness there wasn't a psychiatrist in the South who could help Bill Heard?

Davis denied saying that to the witness but added, "I guess I'm a little snobbish about psychiatry, but state-of-the-art psychiatry is practiced at UCSD.... It's a top-notch place to be."

Raney did not pull her back to earlier testimony in which she'd explained why she'd dropped out of the UCSD residency program.

Davis testified she'd made reservations January 2 to fly at 5:00 p.m. with Heard to San Diego. She was about to pack his bags when he asked her to buy him some white shorts. She told him she wouldn't be able to find shorts of any color in Little Rock in January but dashed out anyway about 3:45 p.m. At Dillard's department store she bought herself denim leggings and three pieces of Danskin exercise wear. The sales receipt for that transaction was stamped 4:24 p.m.

The coroner estimates Heard died sometime between 3:45 and 4:30 p.m. The only other evidence useful to establish a timeline came from people who had spoken to Bill Heard on the telephone that afternoon, including his broker, Tom Herring, who said Heard was whispering and sounded tense. "He said that she was in the other room," Herring said.

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