November 17, 2004
A prosecutor spent four hours Tuesday telling jurors that an Ahwatukee Foothills woman on trial in the death of her husband is a domineering liar who lets nothing stand in her way when she sets a goal.
And Wendi Andriano’s goal was to cash in on her husband’s misfortune, prosecutor Juan Martinez said in Maricopa County Superior Court.
Martinez repeatedly called Andriano a liar and presented time after time instances in which he says the 34-year-old displayed an aggressive, persistent nature, which runs counter to the defense portrayal of her as a subservient domestic violence victim.
"They wanted to paint her white as an angel," Martinez said. "The only problem is when you lie it catches up with you."
Andriano’s defense attorney will get his chance today to present her case of self-defense.
If convicted, Andriano could be punished with death.
Joe Andriano was dying from cancer when Wendi Andriano beat him over the head 23 times with a bar stool and stuck a knife in his neck and twisted it Oct. 8, 2000. A pot of soup laced with an insecticide was on the burner in the apartment and Joe Andriano had traces of it in his system, Martinez said.
She hoped to reap $20 million from a wrongful death lawsuit over the misdiagnosis of her husband’s cancer, Martinez said.
Martinez flashed the autopsy photo showing Joe Andriano’s bludgeoned skull. Martinez said a pathologist determined that a large purple blotch on the dead man’s cheek was a carpet burn from his face rubbing against the floor as Wendi Andriano smashed his skull from behind.
"It was a massacre, it was a slaughter," Martinez said.
Wendi Andriano contends she obtained the poison and placed it in gel capsules to help her husband commit suicide, but things went awry and she ended up killing him in self-defense.
The problem with her defense, Martinez said, is that Joe Andriano was weak from chemotherapy and the poison when his wife killed him. Shortly before the killing, a neighbor saw Joe Andriano lying on the apartment floor, vomiting and unable to get up but still coherent and unharmed physically.
"What deadly physical force could Joe Andriano avail himself of?" Martinez said.