MOORHEAD - After more than an hour of reluctant testimony in the double-murder trial of her boyfriend, Elizabeth Ann McPherson had to answer the question one last time:
Did Tracy Zornes visit her Moorhead residence the same morning he allegedly killed two people in an apartment about a mile away and set fire to it to destroy the evidence?
"Do you know if he was there or not?" prosecutor Heidi Davies asked.
"I do not know. There's a possibility," McPherson said.
With that, the 38-year-old woman stepped down from the witness stand and headed for the courtroom doors, glancing at Zornes as she walked past him.
Her answer to the final question came just seconds after one of Zornes' two attorneys, Mara Rausch, had painstakingly established that McPherson didn't remember what happened around the time of the morning fire on Feb. 19, 2010, because she had taken so many sleeping pills the previous night.
"To the best of your recollection, Mr. Zornes was never at your residence Friday morning. Is that accurate?" Rausch asked.
"I guess that would be accurate," McPherson said.
McPherson's often wavering testimony Wednesday, along with that of police detectives, also shed light on what, if any, role drugs may have played in the killings of 20-year-old John Cadotte and 25-year-old Megan Londo. Prosecutors have yet to suggest a motive in the killings.
McPherson, who testified under subpoena and had to wear a GPS tracking bracelet in case she tried to flee to avoid it, said she and Zornes have had an on-again, off-again relationship - she once burned his car in Naytahwaush, Minn. - for about four years and she's in love with him.
He was living in Naytahwaush when he came to Moorhead around Valentine's Day 2010 to stay with her at 1318 1st Ave. N. On Feb. 18, after a relative died, he wanted to return there for a funeral, she said.
That evening, she and Zornes had a "discussion" - police say McPherson told them it was an argument - and Zornes left after 9 p.m. without saying goodbye, upsetting her, she testified.
McPherson said she sat around awhile before taking an estimated 10 to 12 Ambien pills and some Tylenol PM, more pills than she had recalled taking in an earlier hearing. Later that night, she received a text message from a number she said she didn't recognize, which turned out to be Cadotte's cell phone.
The message, as McPherson interpreted it, indicated that the sender had found 100 10-milligram pills of the painkiller hydrocodone and wanted to know if she was interested. A Moorhead police detective testified the pills would have a street value of about $1,000.
McPherson replied with a text asking who sent the message, and the response was "TZ." She said the only person she knows with those initials is Tracy Zornes, but she also said she didn't personally know who sent the messages.
Moorhead police testified that they logged about 35 calls between the two phones that night and in the early morning hours before the fire at 901 9th Ave. S. McPherson said she doesn't recalls the calls and texts due to the pills she took.
The morning of the fire, she was still groggy and called in sick to work at the Cajun Café in Fargo's West Acres mall, she said. Later that morning, she talked to a co-worker about getting money she was storing in the café's safe.
Prosecutors think Zornes and McPherson arranged a meeting at Fargo's Motel 6 the day after the fire so she could give him money. McPherson testified it was arranged just so she could see Zornes. She said she had a co-worker check in at the hotel because she knew police were looking for her.
In the motel room, McPherson asked Zornes what happened with the fire, she testified.
"He stated that there was a party, and some neighbors had come and pounded on the door to ... where they were at," she said. "Somebody came to the door and said, 'You people don't belong here and we're calling the police,' and Tracy said he left."
McPherson said when she told Zornes she thought he had burned up in the fire, he responded, "Almost."
Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528