By Amber Hunt, Detroit Free Press
Dec. 11–UPDATED 4 P.M. The night before Tara Grant was killed, her husband, Stephen Grant, shared his bed with the family’s teenage au pair.
Tthe next morning, one of the Grant’s two children walked in on the pair in bed. Some 14 hours later, Tara Grant was strangled and her body shoved into the back of her own SUV.
Those were among the revelations laid out today in Day 2 of the murder trial against Stephen Grant, 37, of Washington Township.
Verena Dierkes, now 20, said she and Grant had begun a flirtatious relationship a few months into her stint as the family’s au pair. Dierkes, of Germany, was hired to take care of the Grants’ then 3- and 5-year-old children.
Dierkes began crying during her testimony, saying that she had felt herself falling in love with Grant, and said that Grant told her he, too, was in love.
“I wanted to protect him,” Dierkes said, wiping tears away. “I believed him. I believed everything he said.”
She dabbed her eyes, lowered her head, then shot a side glance at Grant, who sat emotionless at the defense table.
Dierkes joined the household in August 2006. By the end of January, her relationship with Stephen Grant had gone from flirty to physical, she testified.
“He said, ‘You’re beautiful and I want to sleep with you,'” Dierkes said, referring to a Feb. 1 conversation the two had.
Over the next few days, Grant sent e-mails referring to feeling “itchy” — a term, Dierkes testified, meant to say that he wanted to have sex.
The two began sharing a bed a few days before Tara’s death. When that would happen, Dierkes testified, it usually would be in Dierkes’ bedroom and the two would just cuddle and kiss.
But on Feb. 8, Grant convinced Dierkes to go to bed with him in his bedroom, in the bed he shared with his wife. Their physical relationship escalated to include oral sex, Dierkes testified.
The next morning, the couple’s then-6-year-old daughter walked into the Grant bedroom, and Dierkes said she hid beneath the sheets.
Earlier in today’s trial, Macomb County Circuit Judge Diane Druzinski ruled that the jury will get to hear risque e-mails that Stephen Grant sent to an ex-girlfriend, Deena Hardy.
“They’re more prejudicial than probative,” defense lawyer Gail Pamukov argued to Druzinski in asking that the e-mails not be admitted in court.
She said she saw no point to the e-mails “other than to make the jury hate Mr. Grant.”
County Prosecutor Eric Smith, however, said the flirtatious e-mails — in which Grant suggests his ex-girlfriend give him a sponge bath and says he’s bored with his marriage — speak to Grant’s state of mind around the time of the slaying.
Druzinski announced her decision when the jury returned from a lunch break.
Tara Grant’s sister, Alicia Standerfer, took the stand early today and described Tara as a fantastic mom whose life centered around her two children, despite her hectic work schedule that took her out of the country most weekdays.
Standerfer said her sister never indicated that her hectic travel schedule was a point of contention in her marriage. Asked by Pamukov if Tara Grant had said she wanted to work on her marriage to become less of a controlling force in the household, Standerfer took exception.
“She wasn’t the domineering force in that marriage,” she said. “She was the breadwinner, but she was by no means the controlling force in the household.”
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