SPRINGFIELD — Amy Fanion was killed either in the midst of their budding relationship, at the hands of her police officer husband of more than 30 years, or when she was overrun by a mundane matrimonial discourse.
A jury of nine men and seven women will have a central question in the first-degree murder trial of retired Westfield police detective Brian Fanion.
The trial began Thursday afternoon with opening arguments in Hampden Superior Court. The trial is expected to continue for three weeks with approximately 200 witnesses including members of the Fanion family, Fanion’s former colleagues in law enforcement, Brian Fanion’s ex-girlfriend and a myriad of medical and ballistics experts.
Amy Fanion died of a bullet wound to her head on May 8, 2018, at the couple’s home in Westfield, set in front of their dining room table with her daily lunch of peanut butter sandwiches.
His death was originally thought to be a suicide, based, in large part, on Brian Fanion’s account that day while he was at home on leave from work.
According to defense attorney Jeffrey Brown, Fanion said his wife raised her service weapon to her temple, saying: “It’s clear you don’t want me anymore.” Brown told jurors that she pulled the trigger when her husband lunged at her to drive her away.
“The gun went off. It fired, and the bullet entered Amy Fanion just above her right ear,” Brown told the panel. “He almost caught her as she fell. That’s how close he got to stopping her.
According to the defense attorney, as his wife began bleeding from her head, Fanion began to pray.
“He could never shoot his wife of more than 30 years. He could never shoot the mother of his children. He could never shoot the pillar of the family,” argued Brown, adding that Saying that the couple had started quarreling about dog ownership, retirement travel and other plans.
Meanwhile, Hampden Assistant District Attorney Mary Sandstrom told the panel Fanion had plotted to kill his wife, motivated by an affair with another woman with whom he was hoping to spend his retirement.
Sandstrom said Brian Fanion, a deacon at one church, and a volunteer at another church named Corinne first met in 2017 during a missionary trip to Mexico. The gentle friendship turned romantic over the following year, the prosecutor told jurors.
“The relationship escalated into a romantic freefall in March 2018,” she told the panel, with erotic text messages and occasional meetings.
“That defendant said to Corinne: ‘I hope and pray that we can be together forever, including eternity. If that doesn’t happen, I’m devastated,'” Sandstrom said. Cited one of hundreds of texts added over several weeks before Amy Fanion’s death.
The prosecutor said Brian Fanion kissed the woman in the basement of his father-in-law’s house the day after his wife’s death, as the family gathered upstairs to mourn her.
Sandstrom also pointed out that the jury had been doing Google searches about Fanion’s Massachusetts divorce law, his pension, gunshot residue, and other matters retained in the days following his wife’s death.
Brian Fanion was charged with murder seven months after Amy Fanion’s death.