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Witness in murder trial disputes Pasco woman's self-defense story

NEW PORT RICHEY — Linda Callam stabbed Paul Pullins, driving a long butcher knife into his torso, piercing his diaphragm and liver.

Prosecutors call it second-degree murder. Callam calls it self-defense.

The 58-year-old Callam took the witness stand in her trial Wednesday. She described March 29, 2007, as a long day of drinking and drug use and arguing, preceded by a two-decade relationship of abuse.

Pullins, who was 51 when he died, had given her black eyes, facial wounds and broken fingers. He often kicked her out of his house in Moon Lake. She always came back.

The day he died, she said, they drank beer and used cocaine and fought about money. That night, he began arguing with Corey Burleigh, a friend of the couple, about getting ripped off in one of the cocaine buys.

Pullins came inside in a rage, Callam said, and attacked her. He pushed her down the steps onto a concrete slab and backhanded her across the face, she said.

There was a knife on the counter. Seeing a crazed look in Pullins' eyes, Callam said, she grabbed it and stabbed him.

"I just wanted him to stop," she said, choking up. "I didn't want to kill him. I just wanted him to stop."

But Burleigh gave a different account, saying Callam just appeared from a hallway, raised her hand and drove the knife into Pullins' chest.

"I believe it went all the way in," he said.

Pullins, 51, died later that night.

Defense attorneys called witnesses who corroborated the portrait of Callam as an abused woman. Her son said he picked her up from Pullins' home more than once when he threatened her. People she worked with on construction jobs said she covered up her injuries with long-sleeve shirts, even in the summer.

Prosecutor James Goodnow questioned why no one ever called police. And he called a witness who described a woman intent on vengeance.

Sheriff's Detective Lisa Schoneman said Callam told her she'd made up her mind two weeks prior, when Pullin had kicked her, that the next time he attacked she would kill him.

Both sides rested their case Wednesday. The jury will hear closing arguments this morning and begin deliberating. Callam faces a possible life sentence if convicted.

Witness in murder trial disputes Pasco woman's self-defense story 02/18/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 18, 2009 10:27pm]
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