The murder of Marton grandmother Mona Morriss could be described as an execution, Crown prosecutor Andrew Cameron told a High Court jury today.
Mrs Morriss, 83, was found beaten and stabbed to death in her pensioner flat in Marton on January 3, 2005, the court was told.
While lying on her bedroom floor after being beaten unconscious, her shirt was lifted up and six "almost symmetrically placed, clinically executed" stab wounds inflicted, Mr Cameron said.
Her death had all the hallmarks of a "burglary gone wrong," he told the court.
The Crown alleges Palmerston North woman Tracy Jean Goodman, 42, killed Mrs Morriss when she surprised her in the act of burgling her flat.
Goodman was a "practised" burglar, who typically preyed on the elderly, Mr Cameron said.
He revealed to the court that Goodman was in prison, and had 86 burglary convictions, 14 of which had been committed in Marton, and most targeting elderly victims.
Goodman usually took cash and small items she could carry easily.
However, on that January day, she was surprised in the act and desperate to avoid detection, as she was locked in a custody battle for her child and knew she would lose all chance of seeing him if arrested for burglary.
Goodman "entered the house, went in as a burglar, she came out ... a murderer," Mr Cameron said.
The High Court trial began in Wanganui today before a jury of four men and eight women. The court took nearly 45 minutes to select the jury, as numerous members of the large jury pool were turned away due to association with Crown witnesses.
The Crown plans to call 110 witnesses in a trial before Justice Mark Cooper that is expected to take up to four weeks.
A slight, youthful looking woman, wearing a pink shirt with her hair pulled neatly back, Goodman answered quietly "not guilty" to one charge of murder and one charge of burglary.
She stared fixedly at the judge as about 20 of Mrs Morriss' family members and friends filed in to the court room.
Throughout the hearing, she continued to doodle on a pad, keeping her head down as Mr Cameron outlined the Crown's case against her.
Mr Cameron said the court would hear Goodman was a habitual burglar and had been caught in the act of burgling a house one street over from Mrs Morriss' home about half an hour before the elderly woman was killed.
Goodman had run away when surprised by the owner of the first house, but later admitted to a charge related to that incident.
One black hair found in Mrs Morriss' lounge had come from someone in Goodman's maternal family.
She had also confessed to the crime to a prison inmate, saying she had stabbed Mrs Morriss five or six times - a number not released in the media, Mr Cameron said.
However, defence counsel Mike Antunovich said all the crown evidence was circumstantial.
Goodman had not been in Mrs Morriss' house, and she had not killed the pensioner.
He asked members of the jury to put aside their natural feelings towards Goodman.
No doubt as they heard of her predilection towards preying on the old and vulnerable, they had experienced feelings of anger, condemnation and contempt, he said.
"I can not and I do not ask you to like Tracy Goodman, all I ask is you give her a fair go over the next few weeks," Mr Antunovich said.
"It is accepted her actions have affected a large number of elderly people in our community.
"That does not make her a murderer," Mr Antunovich said.