VENTURA, Calif. – The wife of a 1984 Olympic medalist was found guilty Wednesday of murdering him in what she claimed was a self-defense shooting following years of abuse.
Jane Laut, 58, was convicted of first-degree murder of David Laut and could face 50 years to life in prison, the Ventura County Star reported (http://bit.ly/1UtPfUO ).
Her attorney, Ron Bamieh, and family members told the paper that they didn't understand the verdict by a Superior Court jury.
"We thought they (the jurors) understood the domestic abuse part. She's been through enough," Emily Penza, Laut's niece, said tearfully.
Laut was the high school sweetheart of David Laut, who won a bronze medal in the shot put at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. At the time of his death, the 52-year-old was athletic director at Hueneme High School.
The Lauts were married for 29 years before he was shot to death in a yard of their Oxnard home shortly before midnight on Aug. 27, 2009.
Laut's defense argued that she had been battered and abused during the marriage and that on the night of the killing, her husband slammed her head against the wall and threatened her and their 10-year-old son with a revolver.
Laut testified that her husband was shot as the couple struggled for the gun.
In his opening statement, Bamieh told jurors that they were involved in a life-and-death struggle.
"He was trying to get up on his knees when she starts firing. ... There was no aiming, no looking," the defense attorney said. "If he gets up, she is done and Michael is done. He kept coming and he would not stop."
The prosecution said David Laut was shot six times, including in the back of the head. The prosecution said Laut had to cock the single-action gun before each shot.
The prosecution also contended that Laut lied to police about the shooting and stood to gain $300,000 from her husband's insurance.