Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Woman found not guilty in fatal stabbing of Moon Lake man

NEW PORT RICHEY — When Linda Callam drove a knife into Paul Pullins' chest almost two years ago, her attorney said, it was a deadly but legal act of self-defense.

During Callam's trial this week on a charge of second-degree murder, the defense portrayed her as a long-abused woman who acted out of fear.

"She did the only thing she could do to protect herself by picking up that knife," assistant public defender Dean Livermore told the jury in his closing argument Thursday.

The panel agreed, finding Callam, 58, not guilty. She could have faced life in prison if convicted.

Callam cried as the verdict was read.

Callam had testified that she and Pullins, a couple for 23 years, began drinking and using cocaine from the time they woke up in their mobile home in Moon Lake on March 29, 2007. And they argued, as they often did, over money.

Sometime that evening, in the kitchen, Callam stabbed Pullins, 51, in the chest. He died that night in a hospital emergency room.

Prosecutors called the knifing unprovoked.

The state's key witness was Corey Burleigh, who lived with Callam and Pullins on weekends, and was partying with them the day of the stabbing.

He testified that Pullins was yelling at him about the cocaine he recently bought when Callam appeared from down the hall and drove the knife into Pullins' chest.

"I was there when this happened," Burleigh said after the verdict. "This was not a case of abuse."

But in her testimony Wednesday, Callam described the years of abuse she suffered at Pullins' hands: broken fingers, a bashed face.

In the moments before the stabbing, she testified, Pullins was in a rage over being ripped off in a cocaine deal. He threw her down the steps of their mobile home and flung her into the kitchen counter.

Seeing a crazed look in his eye, she turned, she said, and grabbed the knife.

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

Jurors heard from other 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-sleeved shirts, even in the summer.

Assistant State Attorney James Goodnow argued that whatever violence Pullins inflicted in the past did not justify killing him.

"He did not deserve to die that day," Goodnow said.

And he reminded jurors of a statement Callam had made to a sheriff's detective. Two weeks before the killing, she told the detective, Pullins had kicked her in the chest. She vowed to kill him if he ever harmed her again.

Molly Moorhead can be reached at moorhead@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6245.

Woman found not guilty in fatal stabbing of Moon Lake man 02/19/09 [Last modified: Thursday, February 19, 2009 9:09pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. 10 National Monuments the Interior Department Wants to Shrink or Modify

    Nation

    Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has proposed that President Donald Trump make changes to 10 national monuments, including Bears Ears in southern Utah, according to a memo addressed to the White House.

  2. A botched surgery left a barber with erectile dysfunction. Decades later, he took revenge.

    The old man booked his appointment under an alias.

    In this July 27, 2017 file photo, Stanwood Fred Elkus, accused of shooting and killing his doctor at the doctor's office in Newport Beach in 2013, is wheeled into Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana, Calif.
  3. Irma's death toll in Florida rises to 42, but will grow

    News

    TALLAHASSEE —Deadly carbon monoxide fumes have killed 11 people in Florida as Hurricane Irma's death toll rose to 42 on Tuesday, state officials reported.

    A resident walks by a pile of debris caused by a storm surge during Hurricane Irma in Everglades City. The isolated Everglades City community of about 400 people suffered some of Florida's worst storm surges, up to 9 feet (2.7 meters), when Hurricane Irma slammed the region eight days ago, leaving the insides of homes a sodden mess and caking the streets with mud. The storm affected nearly every part of the state, and, so far, the death toll stands at 42. [AP Photo | Alan Diaz]
  4. After Irma, Tampa Bay synagogues get ready for Rosh Hashana

    Religion

    As the holiest days of the Jewish calendar approached, so did Hurricane Irma.

    Congregants open the ark which holds several torah scrolls during Selichot services at Congregation B'nai Israel of St. Petersburg on Saturday, September 16, 2017. The Jewish new year, Rosh Hashana begins at sundown on Wednesday night.
  5. For ex-Rays/now Cubs manager Joe Maddon, the legacy is in the jeans

    Blogs

    Joe Maddon has plenty of memories of his time at the Trop during nine years of managing the Rays. "Too many to count,'' he said.