To look at 32-year-old Darlene Gentry was to look at Texan perfection: a gorgeous blue-eyed Texas blonde, she resembled a Barbie Doll, and, not surprisingly, was a home-coming queen in her teens. She met her husband Keith Gentry while attending a small technical institute where she studied dental assistance. Keith was taking welding courses. She married Keith approximately 2 years later. In spite of giving birth to three sons during their marriage, Darlene kept a perfect figure. Keith provided Darlene with a good life. They built a home in a nice rural neighbourhood, next door to Keith’s parents. Darlene didn’t enjoy dentistry work and she returned to school part-time to pursue a nursing career. Keith’s job kept him on the road 4 days a week while Darlene was left at home, working, studying and raising the children on her own. In spite of that stress, people commented that she was always bubbly and beautiful and the marriage seemed strong and committed.
Keith took a new job closer to home in order to spend more time with his family, that involved a pay cut and a more monotonous job. Darlene seemed oblivious to Keith’s reduced salary; she shopped lavishly, kept a beautiful house, and ran up bills quickly. She and Keith fought over her spending and Darlene’s lax parenting. By 2005, the marriage appeared strained; Darlene and Keith fought about “stupid things” and spent less and less time together. On November 5, 2005 at 6:00 a.m., Darlene made a desperate 9-1-1 phone call, telling the operator that her husband had been shot by a would-be robber, who had evacuated the premises. The operator sent police as Darlene continued wailing on the phone. “There’s um, blood on the bed and he is gurgling,” Darlene described her husband’s condition to the operator. At first police suspected a terrible home invasion, but soon after their suspicions turned toward the grieving widow. Darlene suggested the robber was after Keith’s guns, but oddly, Keith’s guns were neatly stacked in front of the Gentry house, as if the robber politely returned the weapons before his hurried departure. You don’t see that every day.
The officers called for an ambulance then questioned Darlene as to who the killer could have been and where he might have gone. She had no knowledge of either. They asked if she had done anything to help her husband; again the answer was no. Lieutenant Tracey O’Connor arrived on the scene to lead the investigation. There were no signs of forced entry into the house. The gun cabinet wasn’t broken; it had been opened with a key. At the police station, Darlene told the police what she knew: she had gone out the night before to see a friend in a city 30 miles away; she was home between 8 and 9 p.m. Darlene admitted the conversation began with an angry comment about her spending. Darlene related her children had been sick and she brought them into the boy’s bedroom. The next morning, she noticed the back door was wide open; she saw the gun cabinet open and screamed for her husband. Soon Darlene discovered Keith’s dying body, then claimed she called 9-1-1. Darlene didn’t ask how her husband was doing and didn’t ask if she could visit him in the hospital. By now, Darlene was a registered nurse, but she hadn’t registered first aid to her husband. The police found this strange. Strange perhaps, but not evidence of murder.
Keith was brain-dead. Darlene was driven to the hospital and waited outside the ICU. Her husband was removed from the respirator and passed away. Darlene wept quietly, but was hardly devastated. Police returned her to the police station and pressed for a confession. She insisted they provide her with an attorney. A possible financial motive emerged: 2 insurance policies that amounted to $750,000.00. Police soon arrested Darlene, much to everyone’s astonishment. Keith’s parents posted bail so Darlene could leave jail and live with them. Darlene wanted to buy a house and move away from the home where her husband had been murdered. She opted to buy property to build a new house, however, Darlene changed her mind about the property due to a pond within its boundary. The builder contacted police and informed them the pond might contain the missing murder weapon: this later proved true. On January 4, they recovered Keith’s missing 22. If the supposed robber wanted Keith’s guns he certainly didn’t do a good job hanging onto this one.
Darlene appeared confident that when she went to trial she would be acquitted: she was a pretty, young blonde and simply didn’t look like a killer. Darlene’s attorney claimed her stunned, silent behaviour at the scene made her the sole suspect in the investigation. When the prosecution laid out its case the focus was on her actions after Keith’s murder. Police had installed a surveillance video camera, without her knowledge, on the Gentry property, and it showed the blonde searching in the pond. The defence did nothing to oppose the video evidence. February 8, 2007, 34-year-old Darlene was convicted of first degree murder and received 60 years in prison. Darlene followed an appeal for a new trial based on the evidence tape being played at her trial.