December 7, 2004
An Ahwatukee Foothills woman convicted last month of killing her terminally ill husband must now fight for her life.
After deliberating four hours over two days, a Maricopa County Superior Court jury decided Monday that Wendi Andriano, 34, is eligible for the death penalty in the October 2000 death of her husband, Joseph Andriano, 33.
Prosecutor Juan Martinez argued there were four reasons Andriano should be eligible for the death penalty, but the jury could only agree on one — that Andriano’s actions were "especially cruel."
The jury could not reach a consensus as to whether Andriano killed her husband for money or that the slaying was especially "heinous" or "depraved."
One aggravator was enough, however, and the jury will return on Wednesday to hear arguments on why her life should be spared.
Jurors were told Andriano grew weary of waiting for her husband to die of cancer and poisoned him.
Witnesses testified Andriano believed that if her husband died before a medical malpractice suit went to trial, she could win as much as $20 million.
When the poison didn’t kill him immediately, jurors were told Andriano beat her husband over the head with a bar stool 23 times and stabbed him in the neck as their children slept.
Andriano also tried to fraudulently obtain life insurance policies for her husband, Martinez said.
"The defendant is a money-hungry woman who saw her husband as nothing more than a pot of gold," Martinez said.
The slaying was "especially cruel" on a number of fronts, Martinez argued.
Not only was Joseph Andriano going to die of cancer within less than a year, his wife let him suffer for 90 minutes before picking up the bar stool, Martinez said.
Defensive wounds on his hands show Joseph Andriano was conscious for some of the blows, Martinez said, and he was also alive when she stabbed him.
"I guess we should give her some credit for placing the pillow in his mouth so his cries couldn’t be heard by their kids," Martinez said.
If given the death penalty, Andriano will join Debra Milke on death row. Milke was convicted of orchestrating the December 1989 death of her 4-year-old son.