Sioux City Journal
There seemed to be no tension between them, said their son, Leo Lyman Jr., who was fishing with them. He remarked to his wife that his parents seemed to be getting along better than they had in a long time, he testified Thursday.
“I thought they were getting along normal, fine,” Leo Lyman Jr. said during the fourth day of his mother’s murder trial.
June Lyman, 64, is charged with first-degree murder for the May 15, 2006, shooting death of 64-year-old Leo Lyman Sr. in their Anthon, Iowa, home.
June and Leo Lyman argued on occasion, but June never said her husband assaulted her, said Kelly Lyman, Leo Lyman Jr.’s wife. She didn’t interpret the comment, “If I die, make sure there’s an autopsy,” June Lyman made to her as a sign she had been threatened.
“I wasn’t alarmed or concerned. I didn’t feel there was a direct threat that night,” Kelly Lyman said.
June Lyman was drunk when she made the autopsy remark, Kelly Lyman said.
“It’s easier to agree with someone when they’re intoxicated than argue with them,” she said.
June Lyman’s drinking was one of the reasons that Sandra Meis, a daughter from June Lyman’s previous marriage, didn’t like to be around her mother, said Connie Persinger, a close friend of Meis, who committed suicide in 2004.
Meis refused to take her two daughters to family gatherings, Persinger said.
“She didn’t want her kids to be around the dysfunction and alcohol,” Persinger said.
Persinger characterized June Lyman as an uncaring mother who wasn’t around to help her daughter through her divorce or recovery from a serious car accident. Persinger said Meis felt betrayed by June Lyman for allowing Leo Lyman to move back in with them after he had been charged in 1970 with molesting Meis and her two sisters when the girls were young.
Persinger said Meis had confided in her that June Lyman asked her daughters to lie to police that Leo Lyman — the girls’ stepfather — had not molested them. After that, the sexual abuse stopped, and Meis eventually forgave Leo Lyman, Persinger said. As an adult, Meis’ efforts to reconcile with her mother were always turned away, Persinger said.
“She was trying to forgive June,” Persinger said. “She was trying to make decent efforts to have a relationship with June. June would not allow it.”
Lyman cared for her daughter very much, testified Mona Olson, who said she has been friends with Lyman for more than 50 years. After Meis’ death, Lyman changed, Olson said.
“She started talking about how old she was, how tired she was,” Olson said.
Lyman told Olson she was taking antidepressants to cope with financial stress from G Strings and More, a business she operated selling clothing to exotic dancers.
Dr. Michael Hattan testified that on several visits, Lyman complained of anxiety and depression, conditions for which he prescribed various medications. The dosages were increased after Meis’ suicide, Hattan said.
Their effectiveness, however, may have been lessened by Lyman’s drinking.
“It’s generally recommended not to take alcohol with antidepressants because they pretty much cancel each other out,” Hattan said.
In his opening statement, public defender Michael Williams said Lyman had been suffering from depression and other conditions that contributed to her actions the night Leo Lyman was killed.
Nick Hytrek can be reached at 712-293-4226 or firstname.lastname@example.org.