BISMARCK, N.D. – A 78-year-old cancer patient was ordered held without bail Wednesday on charges that he killed his wife of nearly 50 years by striking her in the head several times with a heavy object.
Prosecutors and the defense agreed that Matthias Zimprich was a suicide risk, and Judge Bruce Romanick ordered a psychiatric evaluation.
Ludwina Zimprich, 74, died Monday night or Tuesday morning. An autopsy showed she died of multiple blows to the head, but no weapon has been identified, Burleigh County prosecutor Richard Riha said.
When the judge asked Matthias Zimprich about his family, the Bismarck man began sobbing and was unable to answer. His attorney, Al Wolf, said the couple had been together for 48 years and had two sons. Family members in the courtroom were teary-eyed.
The killing shocked neighbors, who said the couple were always together and had shown no sign of problems. Police said they had no earlier reports of domestic violence involving the Zimpriches.
Prosecutor Lloyd Suhr said Matthias Zimprich had told law enforcement officers he "has no reason to live."
"We're not concerned he is a flight risk, but a possible risk to others or to himself," Suhr said.
Wolf also told the judge that Zimprich had talked about "not wanting to live anymore."
"I don't think he is fit to be turned out," Wolf said. But he also said Zimprich should not be in jail because it could hinder his cancer treatment.
Wolf said Zimprich, a former trucker and trucking business owner who retired in 1985, has been undergoing aggressive chemotherapy since April 21, and his family was worried about brain damage. His cancer previously had been in remission for about two years, Wolf said.
Riha, the county prosecutor, declined to comment on how Ludwina Zimprich's health had been before her death.