The Washington Post

Loudoun man: I killed my wife with a sledgehammer to put her out of her misery

Steven Combs-Lafleur, sledgehammer mercy killer. Or, just killer. (Loudoun County Sheriff's Office)

Combs-Lafleur is charged with murdering his wife, Catherine Ann Combs-Lafleur, outside their house on Lime Kiln Road in September of last year. This is his defense: He said he fell from a ladder on top of his wife, and when he saw her with an apparently fatal head injury, “he told investigators he hit her in the head with the sledgehammer to put her out of her misery,” Moore reports.

Wow. He also had recently purchased two $100,000 life insurance policies on his wife. His defense attorney, Matt Snow, argued that Combs-Lafleur could have bought five such policies, so really he wasn’t that bad.

In his closing argument, according to Moore, Snow said that “Steven Combs-Lafleur is a jerk. Steven Combs-Lafleur killed his wife..but he is not a murderer.” Well, with defense attorneys like these...

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Nicole Wittman pointed out that Combs-Lafleur delivered at least six merciful blows with the sledgehammer to the back of his wife’s head. And though the couple was in financial straits, the insurance premiums were totally paid, Wittman said. I’m going to have to agree with the defense attorney’s characterization on this one.

UPDATE, 3:57 p.m.: The jury convicted Combs-Lafleur of first-degree murder. They will now decide a sentence.

Tom Jackman is a native of Northern Virginia and has been covering the region for The Post since 1998.

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