Trial Opens for Wife Charged in Man's Death

By Tom Jackman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 13, 2009

"Yes, we have an emergency!" Marysusan Giguere breathlessly told the 911 call taker in Fairfax County last March. "We were having, my husband and I were having a domestic, and the gun went off."

Giguere had just fatally shot her husband, Ronald, once in the forehead inside their home near Hunter Mill Road, just outside Reston. The 911 tape was played for a jury yesterday at the start of her murder trial in Fairfax Circuit Court as Marysusan Giguere launched the twin defenses of temporary insanity and self-defense.

On the tape, Marysusan Giguere was wailing, distraught and "just so, so sorry" as she spoke first to Sgt. Jeffrey Norman, filling in as a call taker, and then to Officer Kimberly Folden, who arrived at the home.

She told Folden that her husband said: "I know you have a gun in the house. I'm going to find that gun and kill you." Giguere said that after she and her husband wrestled over the gun, she pulled it away and accidentally shot her spouse of 25 years.

But Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Robert McClain told the jury that "the crime scene and the physical evidence in this case tell a different story. It tells a story of murder." He did not detail his case for the jury. The trial is expected to take up to three weeks, long by Fairfax's standards.

Peter D. Greenspun did not dispute that his client, 53, shot her husband, a manager with the Federal Highway Administration, about 2 a.m. March 3. But he told the jury that the image of an all-American family of four, living in a split-level house in a well-to-do neighborhood on Crowell Road, was a facade. "There's perception, and then there's reality," Greenspun said.

The first public sign of that reality came hours before the shooting, when Marysusan Giguere spray-painted a lengthy diatribe about her husband on their driveway. The content was pornographic, but Greenspun said that Giguere was apologetic when her husband returned home and that their final dispute did not erupt until an hour later.

Greenspun said photos would show that Marysusan Giguere, who learned in 2006 that she had breast cancer, had about two dozen bruises on her body -- inflicted, he said, by her husband. He said Ronald Giguere, 60, forced his wife to sleep in another room and did not allow her to accompany him to their son's basketball game the night before the shooting, causing her to spray-paint the driveway with a manifesto that began, "Hey Ron, stress kills."

Greenspun said that Marysusan Giguere returned to her separate bedroom after apologizing to her husband and that he appeared at her door about an hour later. He said the couple's boys, then ages 12 and 14, did not hear the ensuing fight, which he said started when Ronald Giguere attacked his wife as she lay in bed and started choking her.

He said Marysusan Giguere escaped the room, but her husband began choking her again in a vestibule before she broke his hold and punched him in the mouth. Both then ran upstairs, Greenspun said, and reached for Marysusan Giguere's .38-caliber Taurus handgun.

Marysusan Giguere got the gun first. As they moved toward a hallway bathroom, Greenspun said, "he's lunging toward her, Marysusan thinks he's bringing his arm up, and the next thing you know, she smells gunpowder."

The defendant told Folden that her husband had attacked her with a hammer, which Greenspun did not mention in his opening statement. Folden said Giguere told her that the gun was typically kept unloaded, but "the gun happened to be loaded tonight."

Greenspun also said that Giguere is mentally ill and that he will present evidence that she was repeatedly raped and beaten by her father from age 8 to 18. He said that she had been delusional at the time of the shooting and that clinical psychologist Michael Hendricks would testify for the defense.

McClain told the jury that Stanton Samenow, another clinical psychologist, had examined Giguere and "he's going to tell you that she was absolutely sane at the time of the crime. He's going to tell you that she knew right from wrong." Greenspun responded that Samenow had "never found anybody legally insane."

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