Pine file reveals details of murder conspiracy case

TUPELO – Ridgeland psychiatrist Dr. Mark Webb will tell a Lee County jury that Tupelo real estate agent Cheryl Pine “was not thinking clearly” when she allegedly conspired to have her husband murdered.
Webb’s summary report is in the case file in the Lee County Justice Center, and Webb is among several people subpoenaed for Pine’s trial, which appears to be set for Aug. 17.
That date may depend upon whether the 58-year-old was re-indicted during the recent Lee County grand jury session.
Most indictments do not become public until the defendant is arrested, but Pine was first indicted and arrested in late October. She is accused on two counts of conspiring and attempting to murder her husband, James, a mechanical engineer.
Prosecutor David Daniels asked the court June 11 to halt proceedings because he intended to present the case again to the grand jury. It was not immediately clear why.
The 2008 indictment accuses Pine of plotting with her lover, Claude B. Sexton of Tupelo, and an undercover agent on or about June 26, 2008 – the Pines’ 28th wedding anniversary.
She denies the charges and has been free on $500,000 bond since her Oct. 30 arraignment.
Webb’s summary states that she knew the difference between right and wrong, but “did not understand the quality of her actions” at the time and “was not thinking clearly.”
The right-and-wrong conclusion appears to hurt an insanity defense, which her attorney, James W. Craig of Jackson, has said he would use at trial.
The state, according to the case file, claims that Cheryl Pine wanted to collect a life insurance policy on James Pine because he wouldn’t give her a divorce.
In a June 28, 2008, taped phone conversation, Cheryl Pine reportedly told Sexton she was on the verge of losing her job.
The defense counters that Pine was duped into the murder scheme by law enforcement and Sexton, who had a Pontotoc County indictment hanging over his head.
Sexton is accused of sending a text message aimed at harming a man and his sister, a woman with whom Sexton had been involved romantically. The message was a nude photo of her.
“Sexton is no innocent,” Craig writes in a motion to dismiss Pine’s indictment because of “outrageous government conduct.”
He created the conspiracy and “invited her to participate,” the attorney insists.
The prosecution wants to exclude details of Sexton’s legal troubles, saying they are “irrelevant.”

Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@djournal.com.

Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal