Closing arguments set in trial of man accused of pushing wife off cliff

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DENVER -- Closing arguments will be given Friday in the trial of Harold Henthorn, the man accused of killing his wife while they were hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Prosecutors say Henthorn, 58, pushed his wife off a cliff in the park in 2012, while Henthorn claims his wife fell.

In May 1995, Henthorn's first wife, Sandra Lynn Henthorn, died when the couple's car fell on her. They had pulled over to change a tire on Colorado 67 near Sedalia and Harold Henthorn says his wife had crawled underneath while it was propped up. He was never charged in that case.

Henthorn, from Highlands Ranch, had large insurance polices on both wives, including $4.5 million on Toni Henthorn. In the Rocky Mountain National Park case, prosecutors also allege Henthorn marked the spot on a map where he allegedly pushed his wife off the cliff with an "X."

Toni Henthorn fell 140 feet to her death in September 2012 while hiking on Deer Mountain Trail with her husband to celebrate their 12th wedding anniversary.

But Toni’s friends and family were suspicious that Henthorn’s stories didn’t add up.

"Henthorn told several conflicting stories about how Toni died,” prosecutors wrote in court papers. “He told law enforcement and family members that he did not see her fall, but rather witnessed a blur while he was reading text messages.

“He told another witness that both he and Toni were checking text messages and Toni had wandered too close to the edge. He told other witnesses that Toni was trying to take pictures and slipped.

"Henthorn said that he and Toni initially left the trail to find a romantic spot and because of the crowds that day. They then hiked to the lower knob to see wild turkeys, for an intimate moment, or to scout future hikes to take with their seven-year-old daughter.

"But a map found in Henthorn’s car suggested these detours were not spontaneous: it marked the spot near where Toni fell with a pink X.Henthorn had extensively scouted the hike. Contrary to what he told law enforcement, he made nine different trips to the area around Rocky Mountain National Park that summer. And in the fortnight before their anniversary, Henthorn had hiked six trails to find the perfect one for the trip.”

Henthorn is charged with first-degree murder and is being tried in federal court because Toni Henthorn died on federal land in Rocky Mountain National Park.