Judge won't toss suit against slain man's ex-wife

Friday, January 9, 2009 | 10:39 a.m. CST; updated 11:26 a.m. CST, Friday, January 9, 2009

SPRINGFIELD — A judge has refused to drop or delay a lawsuit implicating the former wife of nationally recognized book collector Rolland Lee Comstock in his death.

Greene County Circuit Judge Michael Cordonnier denied the motion from attorneys for Alberta Comstock, of Fairland, Okla., on Thursday.

No one has been charged in the July 2007 death of Rolland Comstock, 70. Alberta Comstock's attorney, Timothy Richardson, had asked the court to at least delay the wrongful-death suit to wait and see if criminal charges are filed.

"I don't think there ever should be a criminal case against Mrs. Comstock, but criminal cases get filed against innocent people all the time," Richardson said. "Stop things until the Greene County Sheriff's Office finishes their investigation and hands it over to prosecutors and we'll see who's charged at that point."

Rolland Comstock was a book collector and attorney who handled tax and probate cases in Springfield for more than 40 years. He was found shot to death in his home.

The wrongful-death suit was filed by Alberta Comstock's daughter, Faith Stocker, who accuses her mother of "acting alone or in conspiracy with another."

The suit doesn't provide details about who the alleged co-conspirator might have been. It also doesn't describe what led to the shooting.

Stocker's attorney, Stuart King, on Thursday acknowledged he had no proof Alberta Comstock worked with anyone else in the crime. He said he would file an amended petition within 10 days to clear up the petition's language.

King said in court that he has enough evidence against Alberta Comstock to go before a jury, although Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott has repeatedly refused to name the woman as a suspect.

The sheriff said that there are numerous persons of interest in the ongoing investigation and that Alberta Comstock has not been ruled out.

Rolland Comstock was best known for a home library that contained about 50,000 items, primarily modern first-edition British and American literature. He housed his collection in a $200,000, two-story addition built in 1993.

Investigators have said that none of the books were missing.

Rolland and Alberta Comstock divorced in 2005 after 38 years of marriage and were involved in a dispute over a $215,000 settlement Rolland Comstock was to pay.


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