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Woman goes on trial for polygamy

Defense says she's a serial monogamist

By Emanuella Grinberg
Court TV

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Kyle Elizabeth McConnell admits she has a habit of marrying men.

But while a lawyer for the 46-year-old says McConnell is simply a serial monogamist, Michigan authorities claim McConnell was a polygamist.

They allege she went from from one spouse to the next before they realized she had cleaned out their bank accounts.

McConnell has already pleaded guilty to attempted forgery and intent to defraud for writing bad checks to her former husband, Richard McConnell. Those checks were drawn on an account belonging to Len Battaglia, who she married before McConnell.

On Wednesday, McConnell will stand trial on one count of polygamy stemming from her union with Macomb Township resident Douglas Rice while she was still married to Richard McConnell.

"From our view, it's pretty straightforward," Macomb County assistant prosecuting attorney Michael Servitto told CourtTVnews.com. "She married Mr. McConnell and then married Mr. Rice without obtaining a divorce from Mr. McConnell beforehand."

But defense lawyer Robert McClellan is expected to argue that, because his client was already married to Len Battaglia when she married McConnell, her marriage to McConnell was invalid.

"Since the marriage to Richard McConnell wasn't a legal marriage, she wasn't guilty of polygamy when she later married Mr. Rice," McClellan told the Macomb Daily in 2006. "It's more correct to call her a serial monogamist."

But Servitto said his case would focus solely on the contemporaneous unions between the defendant, Richard McConnell and Douglas Rice, and that references to her previous spouses or convictions were irrelevant.

Servitto said he would rely on direct and circumstantial evidence, including marriage certificates and live testimony from the two spurned men, to prove that the defendant never terminated her marriage with McConnell before marrying Rice.

"The fraud really has no bearing on whether she committed polygamy," he said.

McConnell, who asked for a bench trial instead of a trial by jury, faces four years in prison if convicted.

Authorities believe McConnell has been married at least 15 times. Her corrections profile lists 14 aliases, though some appear to be variations of the same last name. Since her arrest, at least three of her former partners have come forward with allegations identical to Battaglia's.

In each case, a whirlwind courtship ended in marriage. McConnell would then allegedly persuade her new husband to hand over control of their finances so she could change the mailing address attached to the account. She'd then allegedly empty the account and leave him a few months later.

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