What appeared to be a frightening accident in a Wisconsin neighborhood looks a lot different now that the smoke has cleared away.
At first, it didn’t seem odd that 50-year-old Lee Anne Pirus was found dead under debris two days after her house caught fire and blew up. Then, investigators discovered that she really died from “homicidal firearm trauma” — not the explosion — and could have already been dead for months, Fox 8 reports.
Suddenly, authorities’ eyes turned to her husband, 59-year-old Steven Pirus.
Police believe Steven rigged the natural gas system to make the house blow in order to cover his tracks for his wife’s killing, endangering his neighbors in the process.
Steven was arrested and charged with suspicion of first-degree intentional homicide, arson, and recklessly endangering safety.Screenshot/WISC
And according to WISC, Madison Police Chief Mike Koval believes the husband has his defense story ready to go, one that will make him look like a good guy who killed his wife out of his love for her. He said:
“My sense is that now that he’s a charged defendant, he’s going to allege something in the order that she asked him to kill her because she couldn’t commit suicide on her own.”
Koval wants to make sure they cover everything to be ready for the husband’s story once he gives his reason for his wife’s death, which may or may not be a claim of assisted suicide on his part:
“We don’t have anything to suggest that that’s the supposition, so we are going to continue to look at all angles and not lock and load on one so we can stay objective. We want to nail down all those suppositions that he might allege, what prompted him to take this kind of action.”
Criminal defense attorney Tim Kiefer said Steven could be headed for trouble if he does plan on claiming he killed his wife because she asked him to end her life.Screenshot/WISC
“Absent any kind of suicide note, with a house having exploded, it doesn’t at all fit with what you would think as assisted suicide would be like. They both would know he would be getting in legal trouble as a result of this and you would think that she would want to explain the situation after her death. He doesn’t have a lot to work with legally.”
Kiefer pointed out that there is a major difference in the sentencing of an assisted suicide conviction and a first-degree intentional homicide conviction. He said the maximum sentence for assisted suicide would likely be three years; if Steven is convicted of first-degree intentional homicide, he’d be eligible for a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Kiefer added that assisted suicide would be out the window if the husband is found guilty of shooting his wife.
Either way, the chief is ready to prove that Steven wasn’t being a caring husband who was listening to his wife’s last request. He explained:
“I suspect he’ll try to show himself as a humanitarian trying to help his wife and we’re going to show what we believe is a cold, calculated killer.”
The investigation continues with family members being questioned, financial records being checked, and marital and mental health problems being explored.
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