Jury Weighs Case of Woman Charged in Husband's Death

By Tom Jackman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 23, 2009

After fatally shooting her husband last March, Marysusan Giguere claimed self-defense three times: to the 911 call taker, to the first officer at the scene and to a social worker. Now, a Fairfax County jury is deliberating whether the shooting was justifiable -- or murder.

Giguere, 53, is on trial for killing Ronald K. Giguere, 60, in a bathroom of their Crowell Road home, just a few feet from the bedroom of their two sons, ages 12 and 14. Their horrified cries can be heard in the background as Giguere tells the 911 call taker that she was wrestling with her husband over a .38-caliber revolver, and "it was an accident. I'm just so, so sorry."

Her lawyer, Peter D. Greenspun, played the entire 12-minute 911 tape for the jury yesterday during his closing argument. "The commonwealth suggests," Greenspun said, "this was a cover-up. That that was acting. Putting the boys through that was acting. That those words were not sincere."

But Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Robert D. McClain, who played the tape last week at the trial's start, noted that Giguere told a different story in each of her three versions and that she was "a woman enraged that night . . . This case isn't about self-defense. This case is about a woman who was angry, vengeful, who hit her husband. Grabbed a gun she had loaded, followed him into the bathroom and killed him with a single shot."

About eight hours before the March 2 shooting, Giguere had spray-painted a diatribe on the black asphalt outside their home near Reston. "Hey Ron stress kills," Giguere wrote in neat, three-foot-high letters that accused her husband of looking at pornography. "Ron Giguere has never stood up for Marysusan, [or his sons] to his parents," she wrote. "You have a sexual predator living in your neighborhood."

In a late trial bombshell Wednesday, Marysusan Giguere's mother took the stand as a prosecution witness. Dorothy Norpel, 87, testified that her daughter called her about 6 p.m. that day, telling her she was spray-painting the driveway.

Norpel also said her daughter was "crying, very, very upset" and reported that she had just discovered that Ron Giguere had somehow obtained money from the couple's home and North Carolina beach property mortgages without his wife's knowledge.

"She said, 'I'm going to divorce him,' " Norpel recalled. " 'I'm going to ask for a $500,000 settlement.' " Moments later, Marysusan Giguere hung up, her mother testified.

The two have not spoken or seen each other since and did not make eye contact in the courtroom. Greenspun then called as a witness a police detective who interviewed Norpel the day of the shooting. He said Norpel did not mention the alleged financial dealings or divorce plan.

In his two-hour closing argument, Greenspun tried to dissect the prosecution's version of a cold-blooded killing and explain how Giguere was defending herself. Late in the trial, Greenspun decided not to pursue an insanity defense for Giguere, focusing instead on the minutes leading up to the shooting.

Greenspun noted that Marysusan Giguere's bedspread was stained with her husband's blood, which he said occurred after he tried to choke her and she punched him in the mouth, splitting his lip. Marysusan Giguere also bit Ron Giguere on the arm, and his blood was found outside her bedroom and elsewhere in the house.

The two ran upstairs to the master bedroom, where Marysusan Giguere kept her five-shot revolver, which was loaded. She reached the gun first, and the two moved to a hall bathroom. Greenspun laid out a full-sized painter's tarp with tape indicating the bathroom dimensions and showed the jury where the struggle occurred. Then he showed jurors a styrofoam mannequin's head on a 5 1/2 -foot stick, with a four-foot dowel protruding from the likely bullet track, to argue that his client could not have shot her husband from anywhere but close range, probably while he was leaning forward in a struggle over the gun.

McClain said that Ron Giguere fell on his back, an indication that he was not leaning forward, and that he had no clear powder burn on his forehead, which would have been present if he had been shot at close range. He said Giguere could have ducked his head before the shot or been on his knees.

The jury will resume deliberations today.

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