March 3, 2009

Nurse accused of husband's murder

Posted: 09:07 AM ET

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee–The murder trial of a nurse accused of killing her second husband will hear testimony from witnesses beginning this morning. Raynella Dossett-Leath is accused of the first-degree premeditated murder of her second husband David Leath, in 2003.

Raynella Dossett-Leath in Knoxville, TN court

During opening statements Monday, special prosecutor Richard Fisher told jurors Dossett-Leath planned and executed the killing of her husband before staging it to look like a suicide. Leath was shot once in the forehead in the bedroom of the couple’s home.

The defendant’s attorney, James Bell, told jurors that Dossett-Leath would not and could not kill Leath, and that the physical evidence does not support the state’s case.

Eight women and six men were selected as jurors for this case, which is expected to last about two weeks.

Stay tuned to In Session for gavel-to-gavel coverage of this case. Correspondent Beth Karas reports live from outside the courthouse with all the latest details.

–In Session staff

Filed under: Uncategorized

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Mignon Scott   March 3rd, 2009 9:26 am ET

What is it with the middle parting – you really need a HAIR MAKE-OVER!!!! Cut the bangs, layer the hair!!!!

Mignon Scott   March 3rd, 2009 9:33 am ET

You say, to answer the question 'should the jurors hear about the nurse's previous husband's death' go to and click on "open court". There is no tab that says "open court".

Drew   March 3rd, 2009 9:33 am ET

I'm torn, rules should be followed but usually things like this are NOT bad luck they are serial killings.

Legally = NO

Morally = YES!!!

Debby Phelan   March 3rd, 2009 9:41 am ET

I think that absolutely not should her waiting indictment be revealed to the jury. How prejudicial would that be?

frank   March 3rd, 2009 9:46 am ET

jury got it right in the Bearden case.

Wendy   March 3rd, 2009 10:14 am ET

Yes the jury should hear about the questionable nature of her first husband...Infact in my opinion its a waste of time and tax money for each case to be tried seperately.

Angie Cruz   March 3rd, 2009 10:21 am ET

The wife should be the first suspect, till cleared. The evidence should either include/exclude her as a possible suspect. The big problem is not to take it personal.( unless you are guilty)

Sue Hamberg, MN   March 3rd, 2009 10:22 am ET

The wife/husband should be the first to be suspected in the others death. Also, I feel this defendant's past regarding husbands should be brought up. What's that statement ??? ..."your past actions shows your future actions (?)...."

Steve B   March 3rd, 2009 10:24 am ET

Raynella's husbands have a nasty tendency to end up dead.

If I feel the need to shorten my time on this earth, perhaps I'll marry her and we can adopt the Menendez boys?

basil   March 3rd, 2009 11:17 am ET

After the last trial of joe bearden this one is boaring. I think i'll do some laundry or something.

MICHAEL N   March 3rd, 2009 11:20 am ET

I just wonder with all the breaks that women get in the judicial,system if this nurse has a court appointed attorney,it seems like it .You know jami you get what you pay for,as far as representation good day M.R.N.

Melody Adams   March 3rd, 2009 11:32 am ET

I just started watching "Nurse accused of husband's murder" and I just want to know where did she come up with her lawyer? He seems like he is a total idiot and acts like this is his 1st murder trial. I think this nurse is in trouble even if she isn't guilty as long as she has this bozo for a lawyer.

Tara Burns   March 3rd, 2009 11:54 am ET

This woman was a nurse, therefore she & her husband played in the same "sandbox" as physicians, nurses, people who could have obtained this medication found in his system. I'm sure he was depressed, and I think he got someone in the medical profession to supply him with the medication. Who knows, maybe several physicians only supplied a few at a time. Knowing of his medical condition with the early alzheimers, maybe they felt compelled to help him.
Three shots fired makes lots of gun residue. None was found on her. In fact, nothing was found on her. I'm sure they checked the draines, washer & dryer for moisture & residue. And for any new holes in the back yard where evidence could be buried.
So far, this trial seems luticris to me and I watch faithfully.
I predict a not-guilty verdict already.

Greg Kaylor   March 3rd, 2009 12:20 pm ET

This case is very interesting due to the fact that Raynella's first husband, former Knox DA Ed Dossett also had an alleged chemical cocktail in his system when he died. It was reported he was in a wheel chair in his barnyard and he was the victim of a stampede. Ed Dossett had terminal cancer.
The special prosecution team is from my hometown. Steve Bebb is a former CC judge and now the DA 10th District... Richard Fisher is also a former DA 10th District...Mac McCoin has been a local attorney as well as Cynthia.
Bebb has attempted to have Dossett's body exhumed for more detailed tox screening; however, has been unsuccessful.

Sara Monson   March 3rd, 2009 1:28 pm ET

Thanks for the trial coverage. We haven't heard any local news coverage on this trial, and we live in Nashville.

Celeste   March 3rd, 2009 1:45 pm ET

After the death of her first husband in 1992 she had another run in with law.

In 1995, Raynella Dossett-Leath was charged with attempted murder. She was accused of firing several shots at Steve Walker inside her barn. Investigators believe she argued with Walker over a child who may have been her first husband's illegitimate son. She was never convicted in that case.

And now this??? She is more trouble than she looks and talk about a closet full of skeletons.

Ann Bracey   March 3rd, 2009 2:00 pm ET

My comment is about the case of the murder of husband by his wife. I can't wait to hear the testimony of the wife. I am puzzled that the fact that the early onset dimentia has only been mentioned once. Also that the daughter acts as though her father was not suffering with dimentia. I can relate,as I lived with this for 6 years now. Things go on in a situation such as this that no one will ever know except those who live it! Family tends to deny the facts and the caregiver is the one who suffers, even though they stay together through it all. I heard my spouse say more than once.and even wrote it down, to not let him live if things got to certain points of disability. He said it many times that he was going to kill himself. I was fearful of that and also fearful for myself. The life this lady lived could have been very difficult and no one knows what she or her husband went through. I wish her all the best.

Carol   March 3rd, 2009 2:06 pm ET

Was there GSW on the husband’s hands? Did they investigate his daughter that same evening? Too many flaws!!!! Well stated on the property belonging to her all along. I think the one with the motive would be his daughter. Why does she feel any entitlement to this property that belonged all along to her step mother? As far as charges from her first husbands death, as a nurse, he had a death sentence already. How could she orchestrate a stampede? None of this washes. I’m sure these juror’s already have their minds made up. If she was money hungry, no quit claim deed would have ever been signed between husband and wife.

Carol Theed
Miami FL

natalie smith   March 3rd, 2009 2:15 pm ET

this is tennesse a woman can kill her husband and get away with it here

Debbie Zaharis   March 3rd, 2009 2:37 pm ET

Nurses are taught how to scrub in nursing school. The fact that there was no residue found on Dossett-Leath should not be a surprise to the prosecution. It is the prosecutor's responsibility to emphasize this point to the jury. How long between the 'discovery' of her husband's death to the 9-1-1 tape? Even after the call to 9-1-1, she had plenty of time before the first officer's arrival on the scene.
The fact that she was involved in a weapons offense prior to his death should be also presented to the jury as evidence of her violent tendency.

Barbara   March 3rd, 2009 3:17 pm ET

What happened to the first wife of David Leath? Was Raynella and David having an affair before his wife died? Could that be why David's mother didn't like Raynella? I think there is a lot we may never know.

Diane   March 3rd, 2009 6:11 pm ET

Melody...... I thought her lawyer was pretty good. I don't know if anyone else thought about this but in watching him I thought I was watching a Matlock Movie. I will wait till the end of the trial before I comment on the lawyer. Sometimes a lawyer only has what it has to work with to defend someone. I also believe the jury should know all, whether it helps convict or helps to free them the truth is the truth.

russ nelson   March 3rd, 2009 7:40 pm ET

James Bell is no idiot. By definition, one half of any population is below mien intelligence. Rarely does one get a jury of their "peers". Mr. Bell is trying to get some of the jurors to relate to him as one of the folks and probably some to think that he is too stupid to pull anything on them. I think about Jerry Spence with his cowboy look and slow drawl. I found it interesting at one point when the Judge admonished Mr. Bell he called him Jim.

Kay   March 3rd, 2009 8:42 pm ET

Thank you!

Paula   March 3rd, 2009 10:37 pm ET

Well about this case. Just started watching this trial. But since raynella was accused of killing her first husband. Have a question where's the trial?
Now for her second husband have they checked for fingerprints on the gun and if she had an automobile plus on the pill bottles are there fingerprints on them. Because it was said he had meds in his body.
And they should also check at the nursing home and as nurses and staff if she was acting strange.

Pat   March 4th, 2009 8:09 am ET

The 13th Juror question is leading. Asking if the spouse should be looked at is the only answer to the question.

Laura   March 4th, 2009 8:53 am ET

As a nurse, she knows only too well the heartache and financial drain that her husband's disease could cause. THAT should be the motive. Wasn't her first husband sick also???? Hmmmmm... I just can't believe a suicide victim misses twice before getting it right.

John   March 4th, 2009 9:19 am ET


You look fine no need to change your hair style at all.

gloria   March 4th, 2009 10:02 am ET

did mr. leath have gun residue on his hands

Tisha L Ward (johnson)   March 4th, 2009 10:48 am ET

I went to school and was very close friends with Raynella and Maggie Dossett her oldest daughter (KARNS HIGH 98').....I remeber her first husband Ed Dossett's mysterious death! They also lost the youngest son Eddie jr in a tragic car crash in the middle of Karns!! Maggie was driving, so she was almost charged for wreckless homicide?I Can NOT believe it is happening to Raynella again???My heart goes out to Maggie and what is left of the family!!! I hope the jury listens to all the evidence... Tisha Ward Ringgold ,Ga

CJ   March 4th, 2009 11:25 am ET

Was the victim's hair checked for arsenic/other heavy metal poisoning? There's a lot of talk about Alzheimer's and how things just didn't fit the profile of the disease with this victim. Arsenic poisoning can present like Alzheimer's Disease without leaving evidence behind except in the hair.

Randy Maples   March 4th, 2009 1:18 pm ET

The jury does know about the first husband' because the news has eat it up for the last six years ever since it happened. Everybody around here has heard about it. The police was having ahard time on another case around here and they just made a rush decision to charge this lady, so it could possilely be done quickly. I believe it is possible to take three shots to do suicide, not that is what happened. The reason I think it is possible to take this many shots, trying looking into a barrel of a empty gun making you shake, just imagine looking ito one that is loaded.

janie   March 4th, 2009 2:26 pm ET

has the police dept looked at Mr. Leath's mother's house for any evidence as gloves,bloody clothes, etc. that Mrs. Leath may have taken over there when she picked the flowers?

jd   March 4th, 2009 10:29 pm ET

If the local attorney general has done his job David Leath would still be alive today. This case has been swept under the rug for years
all because the local DA owed a debt to Mrs. Dossett. He and Eddie
were bitter political enemies and after Eddie's death she endorsed
Randy Nichols to get the job. He was elected,recused himself and the case was given to a do nothing DA in another county. He knew
justice was not being served but stood silent for years. David Leath's
blood is on his hands because has Nichols did his job nothing else would have happened.

mike   March 5th, 2009 8:41 am ET

raynella is accused of killing her first husband, shooting at (but missing) another man, and now of killing her second husband. her diary said she was unhappy with him. here's how it looks to me: she and he had a spat, and she grabbed her gun. she fired once, possibly in a struggle, but missed and the bullet went through the mattress to the floor. she fired again and hit the headboard. the third shot was from 14 inches. she had no splash and no gunpowder residue. he had gunpowder residue on his hands. my guess is that he (in a drugged condition) raised his hands in defense, the gun going off nearby. Hence, the residue on his hands. she ran to get cleaned up. she had medical training on hand washing. police found the dryer running when they arrived, ergo, no stains on her clothing.
the man she some years ago tried to shoot had something to do with an illicit child fathered by her first husband. testimony said she lured him to the house and attempted to kill him. from all of this, it's hard for me to find a verdict of innocence.

Andrew   March 5th, 2009 12:34 pm ET

Interesting that nothing else was said about the unidentifiable metal object fund in his head. Was that what was causing the mysterious trips to the doctor? Defense should look into it.

jon h   March 5th, 2009 12:43 pm ET

how about some clarification with repect to the surgical item found in the deceased head when the bullet was removed, that ballastic expert has a photo of it next to the bullet fragmnent. Could this have been the cause of the past medical visits and the feeling out sorts, with no conclusion on behalf of the mdeical people?

jj   March 5th, 2009 4:19 pm ET

I personally think she is guilty. But that will be in the jury's decision.
I think the daughter is in a state of shock. Prosecutors put MORE EMPHASIS ON THE TIME FAME 5AM, 6 AM. UNTIL THE CALL.
Please God let Justice be served.


karen   March 5th, 2009 6:48 pm ET

I have known the Dossett family for over 25yrs. There is no way she had anything to do with either death...

Gayla Karns   March 5th, 2009 7:18 pm ET


Brenda Williams   March 5th, 2009 10:44 pm ET

Innocent until proven guilty. I cannot imagine that this woman is capable of murder. She was very, very inspirational to her students. Still is the base of a lot of good nurses' current practice habits.

Linda   March 6th, 2009 12:34 am ET

Were there no finger prints on the gun? Have not heard a thing about this.

sue   March 6th, 2009 3:08 am ET

She is so innocent. Allthe people that knew her and her husband said they were happy and she was a good person. The prosecution has not proved anything. With all her heartache I hope she is found not guilty. I will pray for her and her family.

angela m   March 6th, 2009 9:55 am ET

Raynella is a nurse so she has lots of training in hand washing

Ian W   March 9th, 2009 12:13 pm ET

Raynella Dossett-Leath will be played by Glenn Close in the upcoming movie sequel , Fatal Attraction 2.
The story of a cold blooded nurse who drugged her husband then put a bullet through the temple on his blind side while in bed. The scene would be reset later by putting a table where she stood over her victim and shooting into the matress to put blast residue on his hands.Then rush off to the daughter's school to give her a "forgotten" medication to blur the timeline.
Then the surviving family members take legal action over the victim's missing will.

Was she ever asked to give a lie detector test ?
If the facts weighed heavily against you, yet you knew that infact you were innocent, would you not testify in your own defence or would you take the defence attorney's advice and say nothing, incase you incriminated yourself ?

Emily   March 9th, 2009 12:25 pm ET

I think its very strange that there was a simular incedent with her ex.
and I know being a nurse in a hospital we have really good cleaning products that are really good at removing blood and other bodily substances. So, she could have been able to remove the blood from her clothing, I feel that there is a good amount of reasonable doubt but I can't help to think that she had something to do with this murder.

Ian W   March 9th, 2009 4:20 pm ET

For me, one of the most poignant Fatal Attraction type moments occurred when the lead detective stated that when first called to the scene, he asked his partner what the rhythmic pounding noise was that could be heard in the background. They went to the basement and found the washing machine running.
Only an hour or two after her husband was fatally shot, she is busy doing the laundry. What a good housewife.

James Brannon   March 10th, 2009 1:49 pm ET

Who's to say that David Leath did'nt try to frame his death on Reynella. Here's a man thinking of he worst going on with his health and decided to commit suicide and he did so on therory on framing Raynella,that way he's daughter would benifit on getting apart of the estate.Also,Just because there was drugs found in his body how can the prosecuter say that Raynella gave them to him.Their is evidence that she gave him those drugs.I guess everbody that has done prescribtion drugs got them from a nurse.Their is plenty of reasonable doubt.Its just sad that when theirs a death in the home you really have no time to greive because you are,automatically become a suspect,and when theirs a will involved and theirs alot of money coming to you from the estate or a life insurance policy you then have to take all your resourses you have to defend yourself that you was'nt the cause of their death.And you are GUILTY untill proven innocent and you have the burden of proof not the Prosecuter.Oh how things have turned around in this country.

Ken Bradshaw   March 10th, 2009 3:52 pm ET

This is a case that the jury will have to really dig deep, in order to come to an honest unbiased verdict. When ever you have this amount of circumstantial evidence and lacking in tangible evidence, it always gets messy. I personally would rather a guilty person go free than have an innocent person convicted and imprisoned, they will still have to answer for their crime, just not on this earth.
Where there is smoke there is fire and I believe that the prosecution has proven it's case.

rick   March 10th, 2009 5:52 pm ET

i have read all your blogs and i cant believe some of the stupidity
one said she could never have done it well dah she did fire at a man beforeand also maybe he was trying to frame raynella. yeah right she is as guilty as the day is long. if she was so concerned about her husband why no excitement wen cops were on the way until she knew they were there and also why would you be washing clothes when you found your husband dead???

Danielle C   March 10th, 2009 6:14 pm ET

what were the prescriptions in David Leath's system? I remember he was taking anti-depressants regularly and an anti-nausea medication as well. did he also have sedatives present in his blood? if he was taking anti-depressants, why? if they were such a happy couple? i don't know if Raynella is guilty of killing David Leath, but her history leads me to believe she is definitely not an innocent person. but, the jury shouldn't know anything about her first husband..

i don't think the prosecution has presented a strong case, the lack of evidence leaves so many pockets of doubt.

This is all so sad for Raynella's daughter. She watched her brother die, then her dad dies right before she graduates highschool.. now her mom might be going to jail for life.

Larry Jackson   March 10th, 2009 7:40 pm ET

I have been watching this trial everyday since it has been aired. I am not sure if she killed her husband or not. In my opinion,the prosecutor has not convinced me that she did it. They have not put her at the scene nor connected her in any way to the crime. No proof at all. Remember in the OJ Simpson's case," IF THE GLOVE DON'T FIT, YOU MUST ADQUIT." Right now the glove don't fit.

Just Wondering   March 10th, 2009 10:10 pm ET

Just wondering if anyone knows were Raynella was a nurse?

Stephen in N.J.   March 11th, 2009 2:23 pm ET

On the 911 tape it sounds to me that Reynella said her husband shot himself three times on more than one occasion. How could she know that ? and second of all she is a registered nurse who see's death every day why all the drama on the tape. I think the jury should be told about her other problems with the law, even though a minor charge of attempted murder was wiped off her record. As far as Katie she is an academy award nominee for best actress, where are the tears when she cries. The way they have been acting you would think this happened yesterday not six years ago. I am glad I don't have to sit on this jury it's still a hard decision to put someone away for life.

Marie R   March 11th, 2009 7:09 pm ET

As a RN who says we can deal with death better? I hold strong and professional in front of the family BUT many times I have cried in the storage room! We are NOT stone as you may think... And knowing how many times I have to sign out a drug on a pixus machine to give to a patient as a employed nurse... let's me know it would be impossible to obtain drugs as a retired nurse with out help!

Willie   March 11th, 2009 10:20 pm ET

On the 911 call she was telling her address because it started with a three. but the state left a lot of doubt that anybody could have did it. I don't think that I could send her to prison for life by what the state showed. I just couldn't do it.

Judy   March 12th, 2009 1:23 pm ET

The timeline in this case is awfully tight. She would have to move pretty fast to commit this murder, stage the suicide, get showered, do the laundry and arrive at the hospital looking just fine! And, what about the blood evidence that was "destroyed" by the prosecution? The defense never had a chance to confirm that his system was full of these prescription drugs. Based on these two reasons alone, I would have to find Leath not guilty.

mary martin   March 12th, 2009 3:59 pm ET

OH MY!!! It's no wonder she wasn't convected!!! No one want"s to put Mrs. Doughtfire away !!!!

ida bleich   March 13th, 2009 12:21 pm ET

Please inform me the verdict of Nurse kills husband in Tenn.

Robin in SC   March 18th, 2009 4:02 pm ET

Does anyone have a copy of the timeline of the morning David Leath was killed? Also has anyone found a place to find the court transcripts or any testimony transcripts? Thanks.

Marcelina Vidaure   March 23rd, 2009 2:55 pm ET

What a joke a lot of edvidence fell into her lap in what I've heard in testimonies and the jurys couldn't come up with a verdict wow, I'm just shock.
If they don't send this woman to prison there will be a third death in their hands, then what..?

Mary Sailer   October 13th, 2009 10:08 pm ET

When will the case of Raynella Dossett-Leath resume?

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