DOVER — A witness in a case involving Portsmouth police Sgt. Aaron Goodwin's disputed $2.7 million inheritance was accused of lying on the witness stand Monday, the sixth day of a hearing to dispute the last will and trust for the late Geraldine Webber.
That witness, Lyz Boudreaux, testified she was introduced to Webber by Goodwin and was asked if she went to Webber's home after Webber's remains were removed on the day of the elderly woman's death.
"Not on the day," Boudreaux said. "I did months later."
"And you're clear on that?" asked attorney Paul McEachern.
"Yes," Boudreaux answered.
After Boudreaux left the courtroom, McEachern called Webber's neighbor, Diane Connors, to the witness stand as a rebuttal witness.
"She's lying," Connors said. "I saw Lyz go in the house. For about an hour."
Also testifying Monday were three local lawyers who were asked to change Webber's will to Goodwin's benefit, but for varying reasons did not. Multiple parties allege Webber was impaired by dementia and unduly influenced by Goodwin when she made him the primary beneficiary of her large estate.
When she was on the stand, Boudreaux said Goodwin told her Webber was "very lonely," so she began visiting the elderly woman twice weekly. After Webber fell and was injured, a month before she died, Boudreaux said she visited Webber daily. She said Webber told her that Goodwin was "like a son to her," that she was "very fond of him" and that she "adored him."
When he was deposed on Oct. 16, attorney Gary Holmes (who wrote Webber's disputed will and trust) said Goodwin met Boudreaux while responding to a break-in at her home and because she found him to be "a very caring, very thorough person," she later contacted him to ask if there was anything she could do for him. According to Holmes, Goodwin suggested Boudreaux get involved in the police K-9 booster group and "help" him with Webber.
According to the first accounting for Webber's estate, $1,005 was paid from the estate to Boudreaux on April 30, 2013, for her "services, research, preparation and sale of costume jewelry" that belonged to Webber.
Five months earlier, Boudreaux wrote a letter to the editor to the Herald defending Goodwin and criticizing the Herald for its "fact-less 'story'" about the probate court allegations against him.
Also testifying Monday was attorney David Mulhern, who said he was contacted by Goodwin on Feb. 8, 2011 regarding Webber's estate plan. Goodwin previously testified that Webber told him on Christmas Eve 2010 that she wanted to give him her house.
Mulhern testified that he was provided with a copy of Webber's 2008 will when he met with her, while court records indicate her last will at the time had been prepared in 2009.
He said Webber described her house as being worth hundreds of millions of dollars, which he said was "drastically at odds with reality" and a concern for him in terms of her testamentary capacity; the legal standard for competency to execute an estate plan.
Mulhern said Webber told him she had taken care of her grandson Brett through a certificate of deposit at the Piscataqua Savings Bank, but when he later checked, he learned that was not the case. He said Webber told him Brett was "all set," adding he was "somewhat distressed to find out it was not all set."
The estate attorney testified that he was also concerned about the fact that he was initially contacted by Goodwin, who was to be a primary beneficiary. He said he found Webber to be "elderly" and having "physical problems" and arranged for her authorization to get her medical records.
Mulhern said he contacted Webber's primary care physician, Dr. Ira Schwartz, and in May 2011, received a phone message from Schwartz saying, "I cannot attest to her competency. I can give you more details why, plus other information you may find relevant. There is no way in the world I am going to be able say this eccentric woman is competent."
In a May 9, 2011, letter to Webber, Mulhern wrote "it is clear to me that serious professional questions have arisen about your testamentary capacity." Mulhern wrote to Webber that he'd discussed the situation with her doctor, her accountant, a bank representative and with Goodwin. He explained that any will he wrote would be "highly subject to legal challenge and that such a challenge might well be successful."
He advised Webber to proceed through the county probate court, with a guardian appointed to assist her, he testified.
Mulhern said he later sent his entire file to attorney Gary Holmes.
Next to take the witness stand on Monday was attorney William Boesch, who said he would have prepared a will for Webber on the one day he met her; May 23, 2011. He said he was initially contacted by Webber, who said she got his name from Goodwin.
Boesch said Webber allowed him to read the letter she had from Mulhern, in which Mulhern declined to change her estate plans. But, Boesch said, he found Webber to be someone who was "not easily influenced." He said she was lucid, coherent, articulate and intelligent.
"She also said several times, 'It's my property and I'll do whatever I want,'" he said. "On that day, I would have had her sign a will."
Portsmouth attorney Jack McGee also testified Monday, saying he was initially contacted by attorney Justin Nadeau who said he was representing Goodwin, who was helping Webber with her estate plans. McGee said he met with Weber on Aug. 18, 2011 for about an hour and that during the second half of their meeting, she "began to misfire."
He said he too was presented with a copy of her 2008 will, which was presented as current. Webber, he said, mentioned three step-grandchildren, but forgot to mention her son's son, Brett, her only living heir. He said she also didn't know where Brett Webber lived.
McGee said Webber referred to her daughter-in-law using the wrong first name, an error he discovered by going though her address book, with her permission. He said those were concerns, as well as the fact that when Webber urged him to reference her stack of legal paperwork, he found correspondence from prior attorneys she had contacted, including Mulhern's letter about getting a court-appointed guardian.
McGee said Webber referred to Mulhern as "a thief and a robber," but he concluded she was referring to his bill for payment.
When he left Webber's home, McGee said, he ran into his friend and her neighbor John Connors. McGee said Connors told him he was the latest in a series of lawyers to visit Webber and that she was "losing it."
McGee said he called Nadeau the following day to say he wouldn't be taking the case, due to a conflict because of his friendship with Connors. He said he also advised Nadeau to "be careful."
The hearing resumes Tuesday in the 7th Circuit-Probate Division-Dover.Full Article & Source:
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