Ex-employee says boss planned to leave wife before killing



ORLANDO, Fla. - Channel 9 has uncovered new details in the case of a local businessman charged in a double murder two years ago.

Investigators said Elmer Banner, whose trial is scheduled to begin next month, killed his wife, Debra, and mother-in-law inside their Lake Nona home in front of their children. Banner's father-in-law was able to run from the scene and call 911.

Channel 9's Kathi Belich unearthed some details that will likely be used in the case, including a report that Banner complained about his wife's appearance before the killing.

An employee at Banner's former quail-hunting business told investigators about their long talks and said Banner said his wife had lost her figure and felt he could do better and that he planned to leave her when their boys got older.

One defense expert said Banner is bipolar while the other disagrees but said Banner was temporarily insane during the shooting. 

A defense doctor said Banner had drawings from jail of him and his naked wife in an Adam and Eve-like depiction.

Banner's sons said their father went on religious and paranoid rants that weekend.

Banner said he doesn't remember opening fire.

But Banner's employee painted a different picture of a good-looking man, who might have been taking prescription steroids and believed his wife had gotten too heavy.

Guy Semmler told investigators Banner said had planned to divorce his wife and go off to Costa Rica to gamble.

Semmler said Banner bragged about being a winning gambler and claimed he had gambled with local judges at a club.

Channel 9 checked with Chief Judge Belvin Perry and the prosecutor and could get no information about whether the statement was true or even whether it was investigated.

Semmler tried to avoid the subpoena for questioning by Banner's lawyers but after a warrant was issued, he complied.