Sept. 8, 2004, was Jay Orbin's 45th birthday - and the day he died.
His wife, Marjorie, was charged with his death. Wednesday, after an eight-month trial in Maricopa County Superior Court, a jury began deliberating her guilt or innocence.
Jay Orbin, a Phoenix art dealer, had just returned from a long road trip to Florida. Though his computer logs and credit-card and cellphone records showed he probably made it home that day, he was never seen alive again.
"No birthday cake for him," prosecutor Treena Kay said Monday during her closing arguments. "He had another surprise waiting for him on his birthday."
More than a month later, on Oct. 23, 2004, a chunk of his disemboweled torso was found in a desert area of north Phoenix.
"She did buy him some gifts for his birthday: two 50-gallon plastic tubs," Kay said, referring to the storage buckets Marjorie Orbin was seen purchasing on a hardware-store surveillance camera. Jay's torso was later found in one of them, along with a stray .38-caliber bullet; the rest of his body has never been found.
"She wrapped him up like little presents in plastic and tape," Kay said.
Kay then detailed how Marjorie Orbin painted over the garage floor where police and prosecutors think the killing took place, and how she began running up tabs on Jay's credit cards and draining his bank accounts, even buying a grand piano. Jay Orbin made a good living selling Southwestern Indian-style jewelry and other artwork he marketed across the country on road trips.
Marjorie Orbin, 47, was a glamorous platinum blonde who had choreographed and performed in topless Las Vegas-style revues. While Jay was on the road, witnesses testified, Marjorie entertained herself at home by seducing her son's teenage karate instructor and having an affair with a man she met at a gym.
From testimony, it seemed the only thing Marjorie and Jay had in common was Jay's money and a young son adored by both.
The trial began in January, and the original prosecutor, Noel Levy, paraded Marjorie Orbin's lovers, jilted friends and former cellmates across the witness stand.
But the trial stalled, first when defense attorney Herman Alcantar and his co-counsel, Robyn Varcoe, accused Levy of intimidating one witness and of brokering a jail sentence for another. Levy broke his ankle, delaying the trial even further, and then had career-ending emergency surgery.
Kay had to jump in midway through the trial. If that weren't disruption enough, the Phoenix police detective assigned as case agent was suspended from the force for reasons unrelated to the Orbin trial.
In his closing argument on Tuesday, Alcantar accused Kay of making up missing details that no one could know - for example, that Marjorie took Jay's gun out of his briefcase and shot him in the face.
He asked: How could a 135-pound woman lift Jay's 260-pound body by herself? Alcantar pointed the finger at Orbin's body-builder lover, Larry Weisberg, who was granted immunity for his testimony. Alcantar also reiterated arguments that Marjorie could never have accomplished the dismemberment with the short blade of a jigsaw. He hinted that perhaps Marjorie realized at some point that her husband was dead - but still, he said, that did not amount to first-degree murder.
If the jurors return a guilty verdict, they will have to determine whether Marjorie Orbin deserves the death penalty.http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2009/09/03/20090903orbin0903.html