MURDER SUSPECT'S SISTER TESTIFIES TO ALIBI.
The sister of the man accused of murdering his estranged wife testified Tuesday that her brother was at her trailer in Green Valley at the time Renee Mullins was strangled.
Cindy Lee said defendant Scott Mullins, 35, spent the night at her place and denied to prosecutors she would lie to protect her brother.
``That's not necessarily correct,'' Lee said as the defense began presenting its case. ``I would like to help but not if it was for murder.''
Scott Mullins, an unemployed construction worker, was arrested seven months after his wife's body was fished out of the California Aqueduct. Tests show that DNA from blood and a broken fingernail found in the victim's apartment match that of the defendant.
Renee Mullins, 34, disappeared from her Lancaster apartment early Aug. 10, 1997, the same day a neighbor called 911 to report hearing a woman screaming and crying.
Deputies responded and found signs of a ferocious struggle - broken pieces of acrylic fingernails, bloodstains and clumps of hair.
Three days after Rene Mullins disappeared, her body was found in the California Aqueduct south of the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve, lodged against a gate used to control the water flow. She had been strangled.
Lee testified her brother arrived at her home between 12:30 and 12:45 a.m. Aug. 10, 1997, and that she awoke when her two dogs barked. She said Mullins talked about winning a billiards tournament, then fell asleep on her couch about 2:30 a.m. She saw him later that morning at 7, Lee said.
She said her brother could not have sneaked out without her knowing because her trailer creaks when there is movement and her two dogs are ``barkers.''
Under cross-examination by Deputy District Attorney Steve Slavitt, Lee said this was the first time her brother paid a visit at that time of night.
Lee also testified that she and Renee Mullins had used drugs together. Defense attorney Larry Baker had indicated in court last week that the victim's drug use had caused financial problems for the family and was behind the breakup of the couple's marriage.
Homicide Sgt. Craig Melvin testified Tuesday that a container of what appeared to be methamphetamine was found in the victim's purse at her apartment.
In contrast to the prosecution portrayal that the victim left the defendant in July 1997 because she was afraid of him, a defense witness said the couple appeared to have a good relationship.
Beverly Dalby said she and her husband spent time with the Mullinses at a billiards tournament in Las Vegas in May 1997. ``They got along great,'' Dalby testified. ``I was kind of envious of how good their relationship was.''
Dalby testified she saw Renee Mullins at a pool tournament a week before her disappearance, and there was no indication of any problem.
Under cross-examination by Slavitt, Dalby said she did not know the victim well and was not aware that the victim had separated from her husband.
Detectives have described the slaying as a case of domestic violence that escalated to homicide. The victim had moved three weeks earlier into the apartment after separating from her husband, to whom she had been married about 12 years.
The couple's daughter, now 4, lives with the victim's mother.
Mullins' disappearance created a stir in the Antelope Valley, where she was well known for her community relations work. she appeared on advertisements for Gilbert Snow's dental office.