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Judge Declares Mistrial For Man Accused Of Killing Wives

October 4, 1996

DETROIT (AP) _ Prosecutors plan to appeal a mistrial ruling in the case of a former auto executive accused of killing his third wife by injecting her with drugs during a Christmas party.

Detroit Recorder’s Court Judge Jeffrey G. Collins ordered the mistrial Thursday, after details of the still-unexplained deaths of his first wife and his mother, which had been ruled inadmissible, came up during testimony.

The prosecution will ask an appeals court to overturn Collins’ ruling, The Detroit News reported today, citing unidentified prosecutors.

If an appeal is successful, the 10-day-old trial of Lowell E. Amos could resume with the same jury. If the ruling stands, the prosecution must start from scratch on a new trial.

Amos, 54, is charged with first-degree murder in the Dec. 10, 1994, death of Roberta Mowery Amos, his third wife.

Authorities originally believed Roberta Amos died of a cocaine overdose, but further investigation showed Amos might have caused his wife’s death.

The charges against Amos, formerly of Anderson, Ind., led authorities in that state to reopen investigations into the deaths of Amos’ first two wives.

Saundra Amos, 36, died in 1979. Amos told police she had fallen and struck her head. Amos’ 77-year-old mother, Mary Toles, died in 1988 while he was living with her during a separation from his second wife. That wife, Carolyn, died in 1989 at age 46. Police quoted Amos as saying she electrocuted herself with a curling iron. The official causes of those deaths remain undetermined and no charges have been filed.

In March District Judge Deborah Lewis Langston called Amos ``a modern-day bluebeard″ _ a folk character who married and murdered one wife after another _ when she ordered him to stand trial for murdering his third wife.

Collins ruled the jury would be allowed to hear information involving the death of Amos’s second wife in Indiana, but not the deaths of his first wife or his mother.

During testimony Wednesday, Detroit Police Detective Patrick Henahan referred to the deaths when asked about circumstances surrounding Amos’ arrest. Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Nancy Westveld subsequently asked Henahan a question that could have expanded on subject, prompting Collins to declare a mistrial.

Prosecutors say Amos got more than $1 million in inheritance and insurance from the deaths of his mother and first two wives.

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