Photo Gallery: Murder trial
SAN BERNARDINO - The two defendants charged in the robbery and death of a local TV repairman took the stand Tuesday and individually denied involvement in the April 2 crime.
Both Laurie Cone and Gary Gallion said they had never met the other until their first court hearing after their arrests.
Officials believe Laurie Cone solicited Gallion to rob and kill her husband, John "Jack" Cone, while she was out gambling with her daughter at a casino.
Gallion is suspected of carrying out the deadly attack on Jack Cone in his home on Sierra Way in San Bernardino, which doubled as a work space.
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Several guns, televisions, ammunition and a truck were taken from the residence.
Defense attorneys presented their cases Tuesday before Judge Michael Smith in San Bernardino Superior Court.
Ed Congdon, Laurie Cone's attorney, said the couple had a rocky marriage and that the two fought about finances and how to raise their daughter.
Laurie Cone was a gambler, Congdon said, which also caused friction. The couple separated in early 2012.
"Laurie Cone, while she had a stormy relationship, was not involved in the murder or the robbery or the burglary of Jack Cone," Congdon told the jury.
Laurie Cone testified that she had nothing to do with her husband's death.
She said she never had conversations with men about killing her husband and she never drew a map outlining the residence.
"Did you kill your husband?" Congdon asked Laurie Cone.
"No," she said.
"Did you have someone kill your husband?" Congdon asked her.
"No. He was my best friend," Laurie Cone said as she teared up.
Gallion's attorney, James Gass, moved past opening statements and called Gallion to the stand.
Gallion testified that witnesses in the trial who said he had a role in the beating death were either mistaken or lying.
"Do you know Miss Cone?" Gass asked Gallion, referencing the co-defendant.
"No," Gallion said.
"When did you first meet Laurie Cone?" Gass asked.
"Never have," his client said.
Gallion testified that on the night of April 1, he was at a hotel on Hospitality Lane stealing televisions.
Gallion was then asked about a surveillance video from the scene of the crime.
Earlier in the trial, jurors watched the video, which was shot from cameras installed in and around Jack Cone's house.
Two of the cameras caught a man - who looked similar to Gallion - breaking into the home and loading guns and televisions into a truck.
Despite similarities in appearance and description, Gallion testified that the man in the video was not him.
"Are these just coincidences, all of these facts?," Deputy District Attorney Cary Epstein asked.
"Yes," Gallion said.
"It's not me in the video. It has nothing to do with me."
The trial is expected to continue today.
Reach Lori via email, call her at 909-483-9378, or find her on Twitter at @IEcourtsNow.