Mother stands by accused daughter, calls her a 'healer'

  • Article by: DAVID CHANEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 15, 2010 - 9:34 PM

In her emotional testimony, Dee Hawes describes events leading to her son's brutal death, allegedly at his siblings' hands.

Dee Hawes slowly walked across the courtroom, too nervous to notice her daughter Elizabeth flashing a slight smile. An anguished look crossed the mother's face as she settled into the witness stand, knowing she was about to testify in her daughter's murder trial.

Tears soon followed Friday as the attorneys asked about the victim, Edwin Hawes, Dee's son and Elizabeth's older brother and longtime friend. More painful moments came when Dee talked about her other son, Andrew, who also is charged in Edwin's brutal death and faces his own trial in the spring.

Authorities say that Edwin was beaten, shot with a crossbow, and run over with a car in Andover before Andrew and Elizabeth took his body more than 200 miles to a family farm, where it was burned in a fire pit in October 2008. On Friday, the purported weapons, some still bloody, were stacked on an evidence table just a few feet away in the courtroom.

Afterward, outside the Anoka County courtroom, a shaken Dee Hawes declined to comment, saying only that "Elizabeth knows how I feel about her." When a friend came over to console her, Hawes said she was an emotional wreck.

"She's a good girl," she said of her daughter. "She's a healer. She's a compassionate person."

Nearly 40 witnesses have been called by assistant county attorneys Deidre Aanstad and Paul Young since the trial started Monday, but Dee Hawes' testimony in such an unusual case was the most riveting.

In a pretrial interview with defense attorney Peter Wold, the mother had said her daughter wasn't capable of killing Edwin. Judge Jenny Walker Jasper ruled that the jury wouldn't be allowed to hear about it.

Beset by troubles

On the stand Friday, Dee Hawes talked about "how a lot of things happened" to the family back in 2007. The longtime landscape business operated by Edwin, 46, and Andrew, now 37, was dissolving over allegations that Edwin embezzled more than $1 million. Dee Hawes was diagnosed with a painful nerve disease and was caring for her elderly mother. Her husband of 48 years, suffering from depression, took his life.

The next year would bring numerous attempts by Elizabeth, now 45, and Andrew to bring an embezzlement case against Edwin; the last failed effort occurred two months before his death. Andrew Hawes was charged with trying to assault Edwin with a car, and Edwin filed a restraining order against Elizabeth because he said he feared for his safety.

During Dee Hawes' 30 minutes of testimony, defense attorney Wold had her describe Elizabeth and Edwin's close relationship. They took piano lessons together and attended church functions as kids, she said. As adults, Elizabeth included her brother in several of her theater productions and helped plan his wedding. Elizabeth was very fond of Edwin's young daughter, often caring for her when Edwin was busy on weekends.

During a short break, both women wiped tears from their eyes.

Dee Hawes described her daughter as the family's problem solver and social director, and the most dependable of her four children.

The mother said that at least a year before Edwin's death, he had told her he was afraid of Andrew because of his unpredictable behavior and obsession about the alleged stolen money. She had said "he would be safe from Andy."

On Friday, she said, "I'm not wrong about anything. I stand by my statement."

Andrew Hawes' trial is to start in April, After that, his fiancée, Kristina Dorniden, 30, will face trial in connection with Edwin's death. Neither is expected to testify in Elizabeth's trial, which is expected to be in the jury's hands by the end of next week.

David Chanen • 612-673-4465

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