Two court-appointed doctors are split on whether a woman was insane when she allegedly clothed herself in a protective layer of bubble wrap and attacked her estranged husband with a knife and Taser in their Redwood City business.
Defense attorney Geoff Carr wants a third doctor to evaluate Laura Jean Wenke before she goes to trial on attempted murder and weapons charges, said Chief Deputy District Attorney Karen Guidotti.
Guidotti said the prosecution opposes a third appointment and the matter was put over to July 26 for a judge’s ruling.
Regardless of the doctors’ findings, Wenke’s dual pleas of not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity means she will first be tried and, if convicted, have a secondary trial on her mental state at the time of the Sept. 15, 2011 attack.
On that day, Wenke allegedly arrived at the family business, Wenke Construction, on Laurel Street in Redwood City and parked a truck in front of the office windows to block the view of passersby. Inside, prosecutors say she asked her husband to look up something on his computer and, as he worked, she stunned and then stabbed him with a folding knife several times in the neck and torso.
After her arrest, police reported she was wearing a mechanic’s jumpsuit and, underneath the clothing, her torso was swaddled in bubble wrap, apparently as protection against being hit herself. During a preliminary hearing, a police officer said a “to-do” list of activities related to the crime was found inside Wenke’s purse.
Wenke’s husband was hospitalized with injuries to his lung, neck and chest, but later released.
Prosecutors also contend that, aside from a contentious custody battle with her husband, Wenke stood to benefit from $2 million in life insurance if he died and was quite jealous of his new girlfriend.
Carr has dismissed both claims as untrue.
Wenke actually began a jury trial in May but, just days into jury selection, Judge Stephen Hall declared a mistrial after Carr indicated his client’s intent to claim insanity based on a defense-hired psychiatrist’s late conclusion that she was mentally compromised at the time.
Wenke remains in custody without bail.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 102