NEW ORLEANS – She stands convicted in the death of her second husband, and prosecutors have suggested in open court she had something to do with the demise of husbands one and three.
Now, husband No. 4 is bitterly denouncing the Louisiana legal system, saying he’s nearly bankrupted himself paying for her legal defense.
Emma Raine was convicted of second-degree murder Friday in the 2006 death of Ernest Smith. Prosecutors say she and her then-lover, James Raine, arranged to have Smith killed for insurance money.
James later married Emma. He was found shot to death in their Poplarville, Mississippi, home in 2011.
Emma Raine had moved to Missouri and married John W. Golston by the time a cold-case investigation led to her 2013 arrest.
She faces a mandatory life sentence. But Golston still insists she’s not guilty.
Prosecutors in the Raine case spun a lurid yarn of money, infidelity and murder, and Golston said Friday that its proliferation in media and online, where his wife was portrayed as “a black widow,” played right into their hands.
“They had her tried and convicted before she went to trial,” Golston told The Associated Press when reached by telephone hours after Friday’s verdict.
Emma, 52, had moved to Missouri a few months after James Raine’s October 2011 death.
Golston, 50, said he had not known Emma very long before he married her in December 2012 but knew she was three times a widow.
“Her honesty,” he said when asked what drew her to him. “She seemed really nice and she was easy with her heart. I still don’t see all this devious stuff that I’ve been seeing on the internet. I still don’t believe that she could have done that.”
They had only been married about a half a year when police showed up. “They said it was for forgery,” he said. But police in New Orleans actually jailed her on a murder charge in Smith’s death seven years earlier.
Smith had been gunned down just outside the couple’s apartment in an all-but abandoned complex in eastern New Orleans, where months earlier, floods following levee failures during Hurricane Katrina had laid waste to everything.
Police claimed she showed little emotion at her husband’s death, but the case soon went cold.
James Raine’s murder more than five years later would lead to its reopening. According to testimony from Raine’s brother Enoch and two uncles, adopted brother Terry Everette was shaken by Raine’s gunshot death. He anxiously confessed to the family that he had killed Ernest Smith years before at the behest of James and Emma for $10,000 of Smith’s $800,000 benefit.
The relatives said they urged Everette to turn himself in. They waited months. He never did. So, they contacted a cold case detective in New Orleans.
Everette was tried and convicted of second-degree murder in December 2014. It was then that prosecutors introduced evidence they said indicated the 1994 death of Emma’s first husband, while he was under care following a car accident, was suspicious.
That evidence was not allowed at Emma’s trial this week.
Prosecutors produced insurance records and other documents showing Emma had increased insurance on Smith over the years. Even her defense team acknowledged she engineered a forgery scheme to keep Smith’s daughter from her share of the benefits.
But, in echoes of the defense argument, Golston insisted Friday that the murder case was built on hearsay and documents that don’t prove guilt.
“I think this whole thing was fabricated. It was a setup and it wasn’t right,” Golston said. “She didn’t have anyone killed and she didn’t kill anyone.”
Asked his occupation, Golston said he was “an average worker.” He said he didn’t want to try to calculate how much he has spent on Emma’s defense. “I’d get sick. It bankrupted me, almost.”
He faults the prosecutors and the judge and says defense attorneys were too slow to run down leads.
“I don’t go to New Orleans and I won’t,” he said. “From what I’ve seen, the judicial system down there is really corrupt.”
Golston was uncertain when asked how the conviction will affect his future and his marriage. “I don’t know what I’m going to do,” he said. “But I have to live, too.”
The fallout is hard on James Raine’s family, as well. His adopted brother, Everette, is serving a life sentence. Like Emma, he was convicted of second-degree murder.
Raine family members declined comment after sitting through the trial but handed out a prepared statement thanking police and prosecutors, expressing sympathy for Smith’s family and saying they will “pursue closure” in James Raine’s still officially unsolved death in Mississippi.