Devil at work in son’s slaying, wife of suspect Grabe testifies
Kneeling together in prayer in their nightly routine, Allen and Jaquette Grabe asked for their son’s continued health and relief from mounting bills, Jaquette Grabe testified Wednesday.
Allen Grabe, 53, then kissed his wife, bid her good night and walked down the hallway of their Pear Park home and opened fire on his 13-year-old son, Jacob, who was already in bed around 10 p.m. on Sept. 11, 2008, Jaquette Grabe testified.
“He was very evil looking,” said Grabe, who told jurors she never had seen her husband with such a look.
“It’s your personal belief that Satan was involved in the death of your son?” Steve Colvin, Allen Grabe’s public defender, asked Grabe’s wife.
“Yes, sir,” she replied, adding she believes her husband was insane at the time.
Prosecutors suggested more earthly forces were at play for the cash-strapped family, who at the time were facing the prospect of lost income as they paid more for treating their son’s disorder.
According to testimony, Jaquette Grabe visited her husband in jail on Valentine’s Day 2009 and gave him psalms about forgiveness.
“If the devil did this, why do you have to give him (Allen Grabe) psalms about forgiveness?” Chief Deputy District Attorney Dan Rubinstein asked.
Jaquette Grabe didn’t answer, and the prosecutor withdrew the question.
Her testimony took most of the first day for prosecution witnesses Wednesday in the murder trial of Allen Grabe, who has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in his son’s shooting death.
The day before his son was killed, Allen Grabe made passing comments that he had a feeling someone was after him and could be trying to poison him, according to Jaquette Grabe’s testimony. He never elaborated, she said, and the vague fears were mentioned just once after he returned from his weekly Bible study group, which met for breakfast every Wednesday. She said her husband had no history of delusions and took no medications for any diagnosed mental health problem.
“I don’t know how strongly he believed it,” she said of her husband’s fears.
“Do you think he was sure about it?” Rubinstein asked.
“Not really,” Jaquette replied.
Allen Grabe read his Bible, which he kept wrapped in a camouflage-designed cover, at the family’s home for much of the evening of Sept. 11, as his wife prepared for a meeting with Jacob’s teacher about the boy’s academic future, Jaquette Grabe said.
She said she later told a Mesa County Sheriff’s investigator she had a “sinking feeling” when she walked into the couple’s master bedroom and saw her husband doing something in the closet where he kept several guns locked away in a cabinet.
Allen Grabe fired an initial volley of shots, before meeting his wife in the hallway and telling her he had to kill the boy because she was “ruining him,” she testified.
“Did you know what that meant?” Rubinstein asked.
“No, sir,” Jaquette Grabe replied.
Allen Grabe paced in a hallway as she went to check on her son, Jaquette Grabe testified, adding she heard her husband saying, “Die, Jacob. Just die.”
Returning to the doorway, Allen Grabe started firing again as his wife was standing near her son’s bed, already in contact with a 911 operator, Jaquette Grabe testified.
“He said he would turn himself in when the police got there,” she testified, adding she heard the home’s front door close shut.
Allen Grabe was sitting on the front porch when Mesa County Sheriff’s Department deputies pulled up and arrested him, a revolver sitting by his side, according to testimony.
The Grabes, who remain married and will mark their 20th wedding anniversary next month, saw prescription costs for their son jump in the summer of 2008 from $5 monthly to $166 after they were rejected for health coverage because their combined income exceeded eligibility for a state program, according to testimony.
Jacob had been treated for Asperger’s syndrome, a neurological disorder similar to autism. His mother was a substitute teacher, whose earnings accounted for 10 percent of the family’s income.
Allen Grabe, who operated his own window-washing business, had met on Sept. 11 with the local ownership of several Taco Bell franchises, who were considering ending Grabe’s services. The prospect of losing the lucrative contract weighed on Allen Grabe on Sept. 11, according to his wife’s testimony.
Over lunch, she said, she saw her husband cry for the just third time in their marriage.
“He said he felt like he was letting his family down,” she testified.
Grabe’s defense, however, said it wasn’t the first time the couple faced a financial crisis, arguing it was an unlikely trigger for murder in 2008. The couple filed for bankruptcy protection in 1997, and Allen Grabe had signed off on an offered loan from relatives to help pay their son’s prescriptions, according to testimony.