The 53-year-old woman convicted of stabbing her estranged husband inside their Redwood City construction business while sheathed in bubble wrap and possessing a to-do list for the crime was sentenced Thursday to a potential life sentence.
Laura Jean Wenke, whose claim of insanity was rejected by a jury, received 11 years to life in prison on charges of premeditated attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, assault with a stun gun, domestic violence and inflicting great bodily injury against her husband, Randy. Wenke faced up to 13 years to life and is now eligible for parole in six years.
Defense attorney Geoff Carr, who described his client as profoundly mentally ill regardless of the prosecution’s and jury’s opinion, said he isn’t sure just how much of yesterday’s sentencing got through to her.
“At the end she looked at me with a blank stare and asked, What happened?,” Carr said.
The jury deliberated four hours in June before convicting Wenke in the Sept. 15, 2011, attack in which she lured him to the Laurel Street office with a fake client, dressed herself in bubble wrap and stabbed him twice. A stun gun was also at the scene.
Prosecutor Tricia Povah told the jury Wenke purposely parked a truck in front of the office windows to block the view inside and asked her husband to look at a computer screen ostensibly to be in a better position to attack. Wenke stabbed her husband twice, slicing a 4-inch gash across the back of his neck and puncturing his lung. A stun gun was at the scene but it is unclear if she actually used it. After her arrest, Wenke was found to have bubble wrap underneath her mechanic’s jumpsuit and in her purse a handwritten to-do list with items related to removing batteries from the smoke alarms so that she could burn down the building, dispose of evidence and frame someone else. Inside her vehicle were three gallons of highly flammable linseed oil and a bucket of rags.
Carr’s defense relied heavily on her mental condition including post-traumatic stress disorder and said the stabbing was not premeditated.
Povah countered that Wenke might have some anxiety and bipolar disorder but that she was motivated by a $2 million life insurance policy and hatred of her husband with whom she was in the midst of an acrimonious divorce and custody battle.
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