|Defense Witness: Monica Peppard|
|Written by Mike Mayleben|
|Friday, 06 May 2011 18:34|
Direct Exam: Lindsey Gutierrez
She and her husband were assigned through the church to provide pre-marriage counseling for Ryan and Sarah in the fall of 2007. This was a required program through St. Susanna Church. They didn’t help plan the wedding or attend it. The counseling involved each of them filling out a questionnaire that asked their opinions about finances, having children, raising them in the Catholic faith, etc. Some questions they discuss with all couples but they only need to discuss other questions if each has a different answer.
Peppard said every couple has some differences, but there were no big disagreements that concerned her or her husband. If there had been, they would have to report it to the church. They met five or six times, for an hour and a half, every other week. She never saw anything disturbing about the way they interacted with each other. They met at the Peppard home and Ryan and Sarah sat on one couch together, while she and her husband sat on the other. They were kind to each other and had no trouble communicating.
Gutierrez then handed the witness a large envelope containing two letters and two fliers--one each for Ryan and Sarah. Peppard said this was given to Ryan and Sarah when they concluded their counseling and was for any disagreements that arose in the future. The envelopes were to go in their nightstands and if they had struggles down the road in their marriage they could open the envelopes. This is standard for all the couples they counsel. They saw them once more when Ryan and Sarah brought them Christmas cookies, she said, and they were very happy together. Nothing further.
Cross Exam: John Arnold
Peppard agreed that Ryan and Sarah were the first couple she and her husband counseled. She said she didn't know which church they were married in or if they were married with a full Catholic mass or a shorter version. She never saw Ryan and Sarah in church together after their counseling, but she and her husband saw Sarah once.
She agreed that sometimes couples don't share marriage concerns with others until it's too late. Arnold asked if some of the issues could be fidelity issues, drinking, smoking, pornography, or financial? Peppard said, "Yes". She added that the last time they spoke was prior to Christmas 2007--six to eight months before Sarah's death and they appeared very happy. She had no further contact with Ryan after that. Nothing further from either side.