CHESAPEAKE, Va. – Kathryn Dean’s family and friends filled a Chesapeake courtroom Thursday for an emotional day of witness testimony and a 911 call heard for the first time.
News 3 cameras were allowed inside the courtroom, but we were not allowed to record audio.
Dean’s estranged husband Ben Wynkoop is charged with her murder. Police found Dean’s body inside the garage of her home in April.
At Thursday’s preliminary hearing, Wynkoop walked into the courtroom in handcuffs, appearing to have put on weight since his arraignment three months ago.
Dean’s family was extremely distraught, especially when the chilling 911 call was played. It would be the last call Dean would make right before her murder. Her family immediately started to cry as they heard her voice.
Many of Dean’s family members and friends wiped away tears as they listened to that haunting 911 call for the first time, minutes before the 44-year-old mother was shot and killed.
“She was scared to death. It was heartbreaking,” said Dean’s best friend Samantha Roberts.
The phone call was perhaps the most damning evidence heard in court Thursday.
Dean is heard yelling out, ‘Why are you doing this?’ Then, several gunshots are fired, and the call goes silent.
Kathryn’s ex-husband and close friend Larry Dean was one of Thursday’s witnesses.
“It’s disturbing to hear a loved one essentially die,” he said.
Roberts was inconsolable. Roberts said she saw her best friend the day before she was killed.
“She had a huge heart,” she said crying. “She’d give anybody anything to help. She was so funny. She was a great mom. She was a great friend.”
Many in the courtroom were seeing Wynkoop for the first time since Dean’s death. Dean’s mother and aunt flew in from their hometown of Texas to be at the hearing.
Wynkoop’s father and sister said they were there to support Kathryn Dean’s family not the alleged murderer.
Witness testimony from one of the officers said Wynkoop told him he, ‘Lit her up,’ after he kicked in Dean’s door and made his way inside her home.
Wynkoop’s lawyer argued he acted in self-defense, saying he believed Dean was reaching for her gun in her purse and that’s when he killed her.
Larry Dean disputes that.
“No absolutely not,” he said. “The defense has a job to do. He should be incarcerated for the rest of his life.”
That’s the hope from loved ones.
“She was amazing,” Roberts said. “You can’t forget her. She was one of those unforgettable people.”
Wynkoop is expected back in court in August when they’ll decided on a trial date.