A man accused of killing and dismembering his wife closed his eyes as a sheriff's department official read aloud in court a note allegedly written to the defendant's two children while he was on the run.

"I know you don't understand what happened to mom," Macomb County sheriff's Sgt. Jeffrey Budzynowski recited during testimony Friday at Stephen Grant's murder trial.

Budzynowski continued: "Things kept getting worse and worse, and things got physical. I hit mom and she ended up hurt very badly.

"I was afraid of losing you two, so I ended up taking mom's life in a panic. I'm sorry."

Budzynowski testified that he made the 3 1/2-hour drive to Emmet County in northern Michigan the night of March 2, hours after police found the torso of Grant's wife, Tara, in the garage of the Grants' home in Washington Township.

Budzynowski testified that he went to Wilderness State Park after Emmet County sheriff's deputies informed him they found the truck Grant drove when he fled from the Detroit area.

"I took a letter from the truck," Budzynowski testified before a prosecutor asked him to read the letter.

Authorities say Grant, 37, killed his 34-year-old wife Feb. 9 at their home, about 25 miles north of Detroit. Body parts were found in their garage and a nearby park.

Stephen Grant already has pleaded guilty to a mutilation charge, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. Prosecutors are seeking a first-degree murder conviction, which carries a mandatory sentence of life without possibility of parole.

Defense attorney Gail Pamukov doesn't dispute that Grant killed his wife, but said his actions showed panic instead of planning.

Stephen Grant reported his wife missing Feb. 14. For weeks, he told investigators and the media he had nothing to do with her disappearance.

He fled March 2 as police searched the couple's home and was captured two days later in the snowbound state park in the far northern Lower Peninsula.