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CLOSING ARGUMENTS PAINT CONTRASTING PICTURES IN MULLINS TRIAL.

Byline: Karen Maeshiro Daily News Staff Writer

The lawyer for a man accused of strangling his wife argued Thursday that it was a friend of the woman who killed her in a jealous rage.

Attorney Larry Baker said in closing arguments in the case against Scott Mullins that Renee Mullins was last seen alive by her friend Diane Spease and Spease's boyfriend, Johnny Wenino.

A neighbor heard a high-pitched voice call out, ``Please, please, please,'' and ``Diane,'' Baker said.

``We know who was there. The person who is hysterical is not Renee Mullins. It was Diane Spease,'' Larry Baker said. ``Somehow, by accident, Renee Mullins met her death at the hands of one of two people.''

The trial will resume Tuesday with a prosecution rebuttal.

Scott Mullins, a 35-year-old, unemployed construction worker, has testified he was at his sister's trailer in Green Valley in the early morning hours of Aug. 10, 1997, when authorities say his 34-year-old wife was strangled.

Renee Mullins disappeared from her apartment, where investigators found signs of a ferocious struggle - broken pieces of acrylic fingernails, bloodstains and clumps of hair.

Her body was pulled from the California Aqueduct on Aug. 13, 1997. Scott Mullins was arrested seven months after tests showed that DNA from blood and a broken fingernail found in the victim's apartment matched his.

According to testimony, Spease and the victim had returned from the Buffalo Club to the victim's apartment at 2 a.m. Aug. 10, 1997. After Wenino arrived, he lay on the couch between the two women and received a scalp massage or back rub from the victim.

``Something was going on,'' Baker said. ``You can suspect Diane Spease went to the bathroom, came back and saw Renee Mullins and Johnny Wenino, and an argument ensued.''

Homicide detectives testified Spease told them she and Wenino left the victim's apartment at 2:50 a.m., but Baker said a next-door neighbor heard the words ``Please, please, please,'' and ``Diane'' about 3 a.m.

Noting the clumps of hair, Baker said, ``Do guys pull hair when they fight with girls? This is a cat fight. This is something between two females. Guys punch, slap, but hair-pulling isn't on the agenda.''

Baker also attacked the credibility of Spease and two other prosecution witnesses, Christina Carbaugh and Kim Hollis, a trio whose purpose ``was to create a villain in the form of Scott Mullins,'' Baker said.

Carbaugh, referred to as the ``queen bee'' by Baker, ``came to the conclusion that the defendant was abusive toward the victim. She took matters into her own hands.''

Deputy District Attorney Steve Slavitt, in his closing comments, cited the defendant's attack on the victim a week before she was murdered, when he threw her to the floor and choked her with a ``C-clamp'' hold, which ``is ultimately what killed Renee.''
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Nov 20, 1998
Words:471
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