Pooroushasb “Peter” Parineh
A Woodside man on the brink of financial ruin shot his artist wife twice in the head and staged the bloody bedroom of their mansion to look like a suicide to make good on more than $30 million in life insurance policies that wiped away his debt, according to jurors who found him guilty of first-degree murder for financial gain.
The verdict means Pooroushasb “Peter” Parineh, 67, will die in prison because the conviction carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole.
Jurors deliberated nearly four full days, asking only for a little readback of testimony, before returning their verdict Thursday afternoon.
Parineh, who took the stand in his own defense last week, has maintained his innocence in Parima Parineh’s April 13, 2010 shooting. The defense argued finances did motivate the death but it was due to Parima Parineh, 56, killing herself rather than her husband making a last-ditch effort to stave off the collapse of his real estate empire while her life insurance policies were still valid. The defense claims Peter Parineh returned home from the gym around 4 p.m. to find his wife dead in the bedroom of their Fox Hill Road mansion and during trial played a 911 tape that captured him sobbing and almost unable to answer dispatcher questions.
The case, prosecutor Jeff Finigan told jurors in closing arguments Friday, was “about greed.”
Defense attorney Dek Ketchum called all of the evidence circumstantial and told jurors none proved anything beyond a reasonable doubt.
Key considerations for the jury were Parima Parineh’s first failed suicide attempt just six weeks before the fatal shooting, the number and trajectory of bullets fired in the bedroom — four — and if they were consistent with suicide and a laundry list of financial debts Finigan laid out as strong motivation. The prosecution also pointed to Parineh’s behavior after his wife’s deathly, namely spending several nights in a hotel paid for by the former mistress he still phoned repeatedly every day, avoiding the memorial services and hounding his children about the insurance money and the financial trust they managed.
The defense focused on Parima Parineh’s history of major depression and called in a firearms expert to recreate the alleged suicide in the courtroom, complete with the actual sleigh bed in which she died. Ketchum also argued Peter Parineh was too smart to kill his wife the exact week the policies were ending or think that an insurance payout is immediate. He also pointed to the hostile relationship between him and the three grown children who are now suing him civilly for their mother’s wrongful death — why would Parineh think they’d give him any access to the $26.5 million in tax free money they received from her death?
The Parineh family had five properties in foreclosure, a commercial building that had been taken over for lack of payment and its estate once worth tens of millions of dollars had all but disappeared. Parima Parineh’s death wiped out her husband’s debt, including a legal judgment, and put $600,000 in his pocket. After she survived overdosing on pills in March 2010, Parima Parineh reportedly expressed surprise her husband was still alive, which Finigan said showed she thought the couple had a suicide pact. Peter Parineh later told his son he “missed out” on $30 million dollars. On the stand, Parineh said the comment was meant as sarcasm.
The Parineh finances and family dynamics were laid out for jurors over several weeks of trial but the most dramatic moments seemed reserved for graphic photos of the victim in bed and in the reconstruction of her bedroom set. The prosecution contended the blood splatter, bullet casings and oddities such as Parima Parineh’s tooth lying underneath her arm and a clean white pillow atop a blood smear show her body was moved after death to more closely resemble a self-inflicted wound.
The defense experts, however, painted a shooting in which Parima Parineh held her husband’s .380-caliber gun in front of her head with both hands and fired. The first hit to her head did not kill her and she was able to fire again, this time fatally, testified John Jacobson of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
But under cross-examination, Jacobson conceded his theory about the bullet paths and speed only worked if the ammunition was faulty and despite that possibility’s importance did not include it in his report.
Parineh remains in custody without bail.
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