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Longo's in-law defends MaryJane.

Byline: Bill Bishop The Register-Guard

NEWPORT - There was never any doubt in Sally Clark's mind that her sister, MaryJane Longo, would choose to be a mother, and would be a good one.

Clark testified Wednesday as one of the final witnesses in the aggravated murder trial of Christian Michael Longo, the man who swore on the witness stand Tuesday that MaryJane murdered two of their children before he murdered her and their youngest child in December 2001.

Longo, 29, faces a possible death sentence for killing MaryJane, 34, and their daughter, Madison, 2. A jury will soon decide whether he also is guilty of killing his son, Zachery, 4, and daughter, Sadie, 3.

Dry-eyed, calm and focused, Clark never looked at Longo in 20 minutes of testimony during which she recalled how MaryJane played house as a child, baby-sat as an adolescent and worked for 10 years in a pediatric doctor's office as a young adult - eventually becoming the office manager.

"She was always very good with children," Clark said.

Describing MaryJane as "my best friend," Clark said she and MaryJane remained close after they both married and became mothers. On a weekly basis they would meet to take their children to a museum, a zoo or to some other child-oriented activity while they both lived in Michigan, Clark testified.

"She was very attentive to kids," Clark testified.

Asked by Paulette Sanders, chief Lincoln County deputy district attorney, whether she had ever seen MaryJane do anything that caused her to have concern for a child's safety, Clark responded, "Absolutely not."

Clark described MaryJane as "a quiet, shy, mild person," who was so devoted to the Jehovah's Witnesses church that she joined Clark to voluntarily do 1,000 hours of door-to-door ministry in a single year.

Clark testified that MaryJane seemed not to know much about the large debts that Longo was running up on credit cards.

She said MaryJane told her she understood why Longo wrote bad checks against a construction company that owed him money, and why Longo did not want church elders to know about the fraud.

Asked by Sanders whether she'd ever known MaryJane to lie to her or to others, Clark relied, "Never."

After Longo and MaryJane moved to Oregon, without notice and with no forwarding address, Clark said she notified state police, Secret Service and FBI officials in two states. She said she knew Longo was hiding from the law and arrest warrants had been issued against him.

Asked what she would have done had MaryJane called her from Oregon to say she was in trouble, Clark said, "I would have been out here in a heartbeat."

Clark's testimony closed the 12th day of Longo's trial, cut short because the prosecution's final witness - a state medical examiner - was unavailable.

The jury may begin deliberating after the final witness and closing statements today.
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Title Annotation:After Longo says his wife killed two of their children, Sally Clark testifies her sister was never a threat to youngsters; Courts
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Apr 3, 2003
Words:477
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