Molitor murder trial to begin Monday

April 21, 2018

A Lake Havasu City woman will stand trial Monday on charges of first degree murder.

Cheryl A. Molitor, 62, is scheduled to appear in the courtroom of Mohave County Superior Court Judge Richard Weiss this Monday, where her attorneys will give her defense in the shooting death of her boyfriend, local restaurant owner Kenneth Nissen.

Nissen owned and operated Havasu eatery Uncle Kenny’s Diner, with Molitor as one of his waitresses, until Nissen sold the business in 2016. They shared their residence from 2011 until Nissen’s death.

Officers and paramedics were dispatched to Molitor’s home July 26, 2016, after Molitor contacted emergency dispatchers. Molitor allegedly told dispatchers that she shot Nissen, who was found dead at the scene when first responders arrived.

Nissen was found in his bed with the suspected murder weapon tucked against his side, beneath a blanket. According to the police report, Molitor appeared to be disoriented and smelled moderately of alcohol when officers attempted to interview her. She was taken to the Lake Havasu Police Department.

Under the influence of multiple cocktails and prescription Xanax medication, Molitor was guided to a police interview room, her attorneys say. According to police, Molitor was observed as she spoke with a stuffed rabbit as she waited for detectives to arrive and begin her interview. The rabbit was a feature of the department’s “soft” interview room, which is decorated with soft furniture and plush toys to bring comfort to victims and children.

Lake Havasu City Police Sgt. Tom Gray said on Friday that there are several reasons why a woman accused of murder would be questioned in the department’s “soft” interview room. Which of the department’s four interview rooms will be used is often at detectives’ discretion. While Gray said it was possible that the other rooms were full at the time of Molitor’s arrival, it may also be possible that Molitor was not the suspect of a crime when she was brought in.

According to court documents transcribing Molitor’s interview, Molitor alternately claimed responsibility for Nissen’s death and asked to see him at several points during her conversation with detectives. Her statements were inconsistent, a fact that her attorneys have attributed to her state of mind at the time of her arrest.

“I did not think it was real,” Molitor said during her interview.

For nearly two years, friends and family of Nissen have awaited the facts of the case, which will be presented by Lake Havasu City Police detectives and one ballistic expert, Phillip Keen. The defense will call investigator Charles Whiteman, who will testify as to the investigation into her case, as well as Kingman psychologist Lawrence Schiff, who will testify to Molitor’s mental state on the morning of her arrest.

The trial will begin at 9:30 a.m. April 23 in Mohave County Superior Court, starting with selection of Molitor’s jury.