A New Zealand woman who stabbed and killed her fiancé while on a sheep-shearing job near Kemmerer, Wyoming, waited all day Thursday for a jury to decide whether she acted in self-defense.
But Monique Huia Sullivan must wait at least one more day to learn her fate. The 12-person jury broke for the evening at about 4:15 after five hours’ deliberation, and will restart deliberations again Friday.
Somewhere In Wyoming
Sullivan had a hellish mid-February hauling a trailer into Lincoln County along with a sheep-shearing crew full of rough-joking, beer-drinking men, including her fiancé Andrew Moore, according to court testimony.
Their relationship was no dream either. Moore had reportedly choked Sullivan five months earlier, then broke up with her; then reunited with her and proposed. He made rude comments about her weight and at one point forbade her to eat Pringles chips with him.
When they’d fight, Moore would reportedly tell Sullivan to call her parents and get a ticket back home to New Zealand.
In the days leading up to the Feb. 20, 2023, stabbing, Moore yanked Sullivan from behind a truck steering wheel as she struggled to back up a trailer, according to court testimony.
Amid a howling blizzard the night of Feb. 19, the pair had already been arguing for days when Sullivan tried to join “the boys” in a camper trailer where they drank beer, along with her female friend Stacy Hikawai.
There was an incident of the men spilling beer on the women. At some point, Moore reportedly spilled beer on Hikawai in what prosecutors characterized as flirting.
The prosecutors, Lincoln County Attorney Spencer Allred and another attorney the judge called Mr. Bowers, argued, based on Sullivan’s police interview after the incident, that she was enraged over the way Moore had treated her, over the frustrations of the past days and hours, and over this “flirting” incident.
“If I’d been treated to where my significant other was telling me to leave, was being rude to me, then he was laughing and teasing with another woman, I would not be happy,” said Bowers during his closing argument. “And if I was already upset that would enrage me. That would make me mad. I hope not to the point that I’d stick an 8-inch knife in somebody’s chest. But I would be mad.”
Sullivan denied having been “enraged,” saying, rather, that she was “upset” and hurt by Moore’s actions.
Trying To Die
She took the stand Wednesday in her own trial after hearing testimony about the stabbing for two days.
“When you were hitting him and you thrust that knife into his chest, you were mad, upset and enraged, weren’t you?” asked Bowers.
“No, I was defending myself,” protested Sullivan.
Moore was taken to the hospital in Kemmerer that night but soon died of his chest wound.
Sullivan also was given care, eventually taken to a hospital in Salt Lake City for a wrist wound she inflicted on herself in her camper trailer after stabbing Moore. She’d been trying to kill herself, according to court testimony.
Bowers theorized that Sullivan was a scorned lover who intentionally left a knife unsheathed and on the camper’s countertop in anticipation of the moment when a drunk Andrew Moore would stumble back to the trailer.
There was no other real reason for the knife to be set neatly unsheathed on the counter when, until recently, the shearers were hauling that camper trailer up icy Wyoming roads — and no one had since had a meal in the camper, Bowers said.
Sullivan’s defense attorney Mike Bennett had a different theory of the case: that Moore drove Sullivan to the point of absolute desperation, and that he charged her, yelling through gritted teeth in the camper that night, and she knew she had to act to defend herself.
“Why did you slit your wrist and try to kill yourself?” asked Bennett during his redirect questioning of Sullivan.
“Because he made me choose between me or him,” Sullivan said.
“And until law enforcement ordered you out of the trailer, while you were sitting there by yourself with your wrist slit, how many people came to check on you?” Bennett asked.
“No one,” answered Sullivan.
“You were alone,” said the prosecutor.
“I was alone, yes,” Sullivan said.
The Last Argument
But what actually happened in that camper trailer is for the jury to decide.
Bennett said that Moore — hulking at about 6-foot-3 — scared Sullivan (who stands 5-foot-3) into a snap decision. He charged her, pushed her and she stabbed him, Sullivan said during her testimony.
Bennett argued the knife could feasibly have been in the sink while the shearers moved the camper and been found on the countertop during the incident.
Bowers and Allred, conversely, pointed to Sullivan’s interview with a Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office detective while she was under arrest for homicide, handcuffed to a hospital bed in Salt Lake City.
Sullivan told the detective that she called Moore back to their camper after she’d spent about 40 minutes inside it, essentially alone. (Hikawai was in the camper, but was sleeping.) Things calmed down for a while, but their argument flared again, and she started hitting him, she told the detective.
Then she “grabbed out” the knife and made a stabbing gesture, prosecutors recounted from that interview.
The 8-inch blade sank through Moore’s Carhart coat and other layers and entirely into his chest, Bowers said, emphasizing how much force that must have taken. He indicated rage empowered Sullivan’s gesture.
Moore’s last words to his fiancée were reportedly some version of “What the f***, Mons?”
The morning prior, Sullivan had sent Hikawai a text complaining about Moore, with the words, “About to stab this c***.”
Hikawai described that as “weird,” the prosecutor recounted.
Bowers told the jury to stick to the physical evidence and Sullivan’s February interview, not her Wednesday court testimony.
“The key facts in this case are the knife. The force used to kill Andrew Moore. And the defendant’s own, honest statements,” said Bowers. “In my opinion, rehearsed testimony by anyone, any witness in the world, never leads to the truth.”
Bennett countered, saying Sullivan didn’t vent to the detective the abuse she allegedly faced in that camper in February because she was ashamed, and the detective kept diverting his questions back onto her conduct when she tried to open up to him. The defender said that Sullivan was on “narcotics” during that interview as part of the treatment for her wound.
Bennett cast doubt on a woman in Sullivan’s situation setting up a knife for an ambush – especially as her friend lay sleeping in that same camper.
“If it was a murder, wouldn’t that make more sense to get (Hikawai) out of there?” he said. “But if it was self-defense, if it was you or me … would you even know; would it matter, that Stacy was right there?”
“He’s going to kill me,” Bennett said, paraphrasing what he theorized were Sullivan’s thoughts. “‘I’m going to defend myself, regardless of who’s around.’ Sounds like self-defense to me.”
Clair McFarland can be reached at Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com.