'American Beauty' murder case back in court

Attorney for Kristin Rossum wants new tests done

EL CAJON, Calif. - An attorney is trying to open the door for another look at the evidence in a celebrated San Diego murder case.

It is not a legal motion seeking a new trial for Kristin Rossum, who was convicted in the murder of her husband, Greg deVillers, in late 2000. But it is a step in that direction.

Attorney Elizabeth Missakian told 10News, "We are very far from going that far. What we're trying to do now is just get the autopsy samples tested."

Two true-crime books have detailed the case: Poisoned Love by Caitlin Rother and Deadly American Beauty by John Glatt. 

Rossum called 911 to report that her husband had committed suicide because their marriage was falling apart.

His body was found on their bed with red rose petals scattered about, calling to mind a symbolic scene from the Academy Award-winning Hollywood movie, "American Beauty."

But prosecutors said she murdered deVillers and that she feared exposure of an affair with her supervisor and her own meth use.

Rossum was a toxicologist for the San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office and had access to a potent painkiller called fentanyl. It was an overdose of that drug that took deVillers' life and a quantity of it was reported missing from the office.

Now, more than a decade after her conviction, there is a request for a new test of his fluids and tissues.

"If there are no fentanyl metabolites then we have the issue of 'has there been degradation; what does that mean?' We're steps away from a motion for a new trial. Is that the direction I'd like to see it go? Yes, but we're very far from that right now. We're just trying to get the testing done."

Deputy District Attorney Gary Schons calls the idea of contamination farfetched. 

"The victim died of poisoning. Whether it was fentanyl or some other poison found in his system, the fact is he was poisoned to death and Ms. Rossum was responsible for that," he said.

Rossum is currently serving a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

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