Cassie Crisano insisted Thursday that comments she made that prosecutors claim show she was trying to hire a hitman were “jail banter taken out of context.”

Crisano, 39, who spent most of the day on the witness stand in Stafford Circuit Court, testified that she had no intention of harming anyone and that comments that seemed to indicate otherwise were made in frustration or in weak moments.

“You heard chopped-up portions of a tape that made me sound like a monster and I’m not,” the former police officer said to a jury. “I’m sitting in jail because of lies and bogus charges.”

Crisano is charged with multiple offenses, including three counts of attempted capital murder. The charges she is on trial for this week stem from allegations that she tried to arrange hits on Stafford Sheriff’s Detective Joseph Massine and others last year from the Rappahannock Regional Jail.

This week’s trial, the first of three scheduled trials in Stafford for Crisano, was scheduled for three days. But Judge Victoria Willis sent the jurors home Thursday evening and ordered them back for a fourth day Friday after it became clear that the trial was not near the end.

The trial will resume Friday with closing arguments, followed by jury deliberations.

According to the evidence presented by prosecutors George Elsasser and Philip Chichester, the Sheriff’s Office set up a sting after receiving allegations that Crisano was looking for a way to have witnesses against her killed.

The sting included a post office box monitored by investigators, putting a wired confidential informant into a cell with Crisano and having Detective R. Mervil pose as a prospective hitman in telephone conversations with Crisano.

Prosecutors presented a slew of letters and recorded phone calls in which Crisano repeatedly referred to “trees.” Prosecution witnesses claim trees was code for people she wanted killed.

Crisano had $5,800 sent to the post office box before she picked up the attempted capital murder charges. Prosecutors said that money was to pay the hitman.

But Crisano insisted that the “trees” she was referring to were payments for her criminal and civil attorneys, as well as a 2011 BMW she planned to buy from her cellmate’s stepson. She said she talked in code because she knew her calls and letters were being closely monitored, and she didn’t want police and prosecutors to know her business.

Crisano’s pending trials include charges of pocketing $20,000 in insurance payments for a staged burglary and hatching a plot to burn down the Stafford Public Safety Building. In addition to the alleged plot against Massine, she is accused of targeting Terry Linton, a former friend turned police informant, and Anthony Hopkins, a former boyfriend who has custody of their daughter.

Crisano insisted Thursday that she had no reason to harm Hopkins and wouldn’t have hurt Linton either, though she called him a “criminal who you [the prosecution] allowed to walk free because of your vindictiveness against me.”

She also testified that she has 42 pending lawsuits, including ones against Stafford Sheriff’s Office personal, the jail, the informants and the Prince Georges County, Md., Police Department, where she used to work.

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Keith Epps: 540/374-5404

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