Is Traci Lynn Adams an abuse victim who “toed the line” — or is she “Ms. Innocent,” a schemer who plotted murder and lied to hide the truth?
Traci Lynn Adams, 48, of Calhan
An El Paso County jury began weighing those clashing views of Adams, 48, on Wednesday morning as her first-degree murder trial drew to a close in 4th Judicial District Court.
Adams has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, aggravated robbery and tampering with evidence in the alleged love-triangle slaying of Robert Miles, a Calhan man prosecutors say was blasted with a 12-gauge shotgun on Oct. 22 after being lured to Adams’ home east of Colorado Springs by her promises of “birthday sex” and a candlelight dinner.
The case went to the eight-woman, four-man jury about 10 a.m., after roughly a week of testimony.
If convicted of murder, she faces an automatic life sentence without parole.
Adams’ then-boyfriend, Mark Manyik, will be tried for murder and aggravated robbery charges in September. A trial in June was cut short because the Waldo Canyon fire threatened a judge’s home.
Although Manyik is accused of pulling the trigger, prosecutors say it was Adams who baited the trap – promising ex-boyfriend Miles a birthday surprise at a time when she said Manyik would be out of town on a hunting trip.
Instead, prosecutors say, Manyik was waiting at the front door – and shot the unarmed Miles in the gut before reporting the shooting as a break-in. Authorities say both Adams and Manyik refused a 911 operator’s pleas to provide the dying man aid and instead stole his phone in hopes it would destroy evidence that Miles had in fact been invited.
Phone records, however, contradicted Adams’ claim she hadn’t been in recent contact with Miles, prosecutors said — showing she made 16 phone calls in the lead-up to the shooting.
Surveillance footage from the Pop a Top Saloon in Calhan also proved she met with Miles a day before the killing – the same day she reported footprints left outside the home she shared with Manyik and reported Miles as the likely prowler, laying the groundwork for a self-defense claim.
Under questioning by El Paso County sheriff’s detectives, Adams admitted she knew what was coming for Miles – telling a detective that Manyik told her to “get his ass over here so we can blow his ass away,” prosecutor Andrew Vaughan told the jury during closing statements.
“Traci Adams was guilty of murder the second she made that phone call,” he said.
According to her defense attorneys, Adams had no advance knowledge Miles would be killed, having dismissed Manyik’s talk of murder as “idle threats” made in the heat of the moment.
When the deed was done, she had no choice but to go along and recite his version of events, public defender Dawn Williams said.
“She was terrified, she was torn, and she toed the line,” Williams said, before detailing Adams’ reported history of being abused by men.
The defense argued that Manyik grew jealous and wanted to safeguard his “property” because of suspicions that Adams and Miles rekindled their relationship even while sharing his home.
Calling Adams “Ms. Innocent,” prosecutor Jim Bentley sought to poke holes in the defense’s arguments during his rebuttal, noting that Adams initially stood by her story that Manyik was defending himself.
“She’s at a police station,” Bentley said. “All she has to do is say: ‘This is what really happened.’”
Williams argued that authorities gave little consideration to how Adams’ history of abuse affected her psychological state.