Ann Kurth testified today she was bombarded by embarassing...

By MARGARET LEONARD  |  March 4, 1981
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AUSTIN, Texas -- Ann Kurth testified today she was bombarded by embarassing questions after the publication of 'Blood and Money,' the best seller that depicted her as the sexy, demanding and violent mistress and wife of a Houston plastic surgeon.

'I became reclusive,' she said during testimony in the trial of her libel suit against author Tommy Thompson.

Mrs. Kurth, 50, denied on the stand she was Dr. John Hill's mistress, but admitted they were lovers while he was still married to his first wife, Joan Robinson Hill.

Hill was tried on a charge of murder by omission in Joan's death. The trial ended in a mistrial and Hill was killed at his home by an intruder before his retrial could be held.

The dean of the University of Missouri School of Journalism Tuesday testified that Thompson's book was excellent, but not entirely fair to Mrs.Kurth.

'It was apparent that neither the author nor the publisher particularly concerned themselves about telling the other side,' Roy M. Fisher said Tuesday of the non-fiction account of the death of Houston socialite Joan Robinson Hill; the murder by neglect trial of her plastic surgeon husband, John; his affair with Mrs. Kurth, who became his second wife; and Hill's subsequent slaying while awaiting retrial.

Fisher, now dean of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, said while Tommy Thompson's book was 'in most respects an excellent book,' it was slanted against Mrs. Kurth.

Mrs. Kurth admitted in her own book, 'Prescription: Murder,' that she and Hill were lovers while he was still married to Joan Hill. She claimed her reputation was ruined and she was humiliated by Thompson's description of her as a 'sex bomb,' a mistress and a demanding wife.

She is asking $3.75 million for alleged libel and slander. Thompson, 46, once city editor of the defunct Houston Press and now a resident of Los Angeles, has filed a countersuit charging she defamed his reputation as a writer.

Fisher testified Thompson apparently interviewed mostly friends of the first Mrs. Hill for information about the behavior and character of the second Mrs. Hill.

'There's a crack in journalism that 'too much research spoils the story,'' he said.

One of Mrs. Kurth's complaints against Thompson is that he called her book 'the demented fancy of one woman.'

Mrs. Kurth, 50, divorced three times and the mother of three sons, has dressed sedately during the trial, in contrast to descriptions in 'Blood and Money' of her provocative attire. She came to court Tuesday in a loosely fitting gray suit and wore little make-up.

Mrs. Kurth, who has dropped the name Hill and now lives in Austin, said in her book John Hill confessed to her he had killed his first wife. She claims he also tried to kill her.

Her lawyer, Bob Gibbins of Austin, told the jury she continued to live with Hill for a few months anyway 'because she was in love with the man.'

Her book also suggested John Hill may still be alive, although several people were tried, and one convicted, on charges of conspiring to kill him.

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