Susan Polk, who was convicted of murdering her psychotherapist husband in their Orinda home in 2002, has lost a series of civil appeals related to the sale of the couple’s house.
A three-judge panel of the state Court of Appeal issued two rulings in San Francisco on Wednesday rejecting four appeals and a habeas corpus petition filed by Polk, who acted as her own lawyer.
Separately, Polk, 51, now at Valley State Prison for Women in Chowchilla, is also appealing her criminal conviction and sentence of 16 years to life for the second-degree murder of Felix Polk, 70.
A hearing before a different panel of the Court of Appeal in the criminal case has not yet been set.
Felix Polk met Susan Polk when she was his 15-year-old patient. The couple, who married when she was 24 and he was 50 and had three sons, had been discussing divorce in the months leading up to the slaying.
Susan Polk, who claimed she stabbed her husband in self-defense and that he died of a heart attack, was convicted of second-degree murder in Contra Costa County Superior Court in 2006 and sentenced the following year.
In the civil cases, she challenged a series of proceedings related to efforts by John Polk, Felix’s brother and the executor of his estate, to sell the couple’s house. Polk also disputed a $212,000 lien by the county to pay for her trial expenses and an $8,000 lien by a former defense attorney, Ivan Golde.
The house eventually sold in November 2007 for $1.3 million. After expenses and fees were deducted, Polk’s share was $200,000, all of which was taken by Golde’s lien and a reduced $192,000 lien by the county, according to the court.
Among other arguments, Polk contended she was entitled to a $150,000 homestead right to the house.
But the appeals court said she wasn’t eligible for a homestead exemption, because by the time she filed an application in October 2007, she hadn’t lived on the property for more than two years, while in jail or prison.
Justice Anthony Kline wrote, “Her absence far exceeded a hospital stay or vacation and…could not reasonably be called temporary.”
Kline added that the murder conviction “defeated, for purposes of creating a homestead, any legitimate claim she had to residence in the property she shared with the victim.”
The court also said Polk’s effort to file a habeas corpus petition was “misguided” since such petitions cannot be used in connection with civil cases.