The woman whose criminal to-do list helped convict her of attempting to kill her estranged husband in the couple’s Redwood City business was sane at the time she lured him to the office with a fake client, dressed herself in bubble wrap and stabbed him twice, a jury decided.
Jurors on Wednesday afternoon rejected Laura Jean Wenke’s insanity plea which means the 53-year-old Los Altos woman will be imprisoned rather than treated at a state mental facility for at least 180 days.
The same jury deliberated four hours before convicting Wenke June 3 of premeditated attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, assault with a stun gun, domestic violence and inflicting great bodily injury. She is facing 14 to 15 years to life in prison when sentenced Aug. 1 for the Sept. 15, 2011, attack on her husband, Randy Wenke.
“We are very grateful to the jury for seeing through the defendant’s dual effort both in the guilt phase and the sanity phase to use a psychiatric defense that was without foundation,” said District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.
Wenke drew her husband to the Laurel Street office by setting up a meeting between him and a fake potential client. She drove a truck to the business, parking it in front of the windows, and inside 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, disposing of evidence and framing someone else. Inside her vehicle were three gallons of highly flammable linseed oil and a bucket of rags.
Prosecutor Tricia Povah said 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.
During trial, defense attorney Geoff Carr did not dispute Wenke stabbed her husband but said it is unproven if the act was premeditated and argued that she would be better financially by his living because the couple’s business pulled in $6 million to $8 million annually at peak times.
Carr argued that his client had mental illness issues including post-traumatic stress disorder exacerbated by misdiagnosis and wrong medication that left her with bouts of amnesia among other symptoms.
Carr could not be reached for comment on the verdict.
Wenke remains in custody without bail.
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