Sturm Trial Begins

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The attorney in the trial of 12-year-old Brian Christopher Sturm says one of his alleged victims had an insurance policy for which her companion of 22 years, John Francis Russell, was a beneficiary.

Frank Russell lived with Sturm's aunt, Nancy Tidd, for 22 years. He underwent intensive questioning about Nancy Tidd's life insurance policy.

"When did you first find out you were the beneficiary of these policies?” asked assistant Washington County prosecutor Kevin Rings.

"I called the insurance company and told them to drop (the policy) because Nancy was no longer here," Russell responded, "and they told me she had insurance."

Russell added the money he received from the policy is now locked up at his son-in-law's home.

Jeff Seevers, chief detective for the Washington County Sheriff's Department, says that after two and a half hours of questioning, Russell was dismissed as a possible suspect. Seevers did say that because of the state the victims were in after the shooting, he felt sure a family member was involved.

"I felt very strongly the suspect was associated with the residence in some way because of the relaxed state of both victims," Seevers said. "They gave no indication they knew what was about to happen to them."

The jury also heard from a Lowell man who gave Sturm a ride to the Tidd home on the day of the shootings.

"He acted like he was scared to death, that he had done something," said Rodney West. "At about 9:30 (p.m.) my wife's mother had called and said these two ladies had been shot."

Det. Seevers also testified that a pair of blood-stained shoes found outside the Tidd home was not believed to be related to the shootings because there wasn't enough blood in the room where the victims were found to have been picked up in the footwear.

Russell said the blood came from a rabbit he was skinning a few days earlier.