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Ariz. Woman on Trial in Husband’s Death

December 2, 2004 GMT

MESA, Ariz. (AP) _ A greedy, cheating wife poisoned her terminally ill husband with pesticide, slashed his neck and bashed his head as she hastened his death in a ``shockingly evil″ way, a prosecutor said Wednesday.

Wendi Andriano, 34, was convicted Nov. 18 of first-degree murder in death of her husband, Joe Andriano. She could become the second woman on Arizona’s death row.

Jurors began deliberating Wednesday whether aggravating factors exist to warrant the death penalty.

Prosecutors said Andriano tried to pass off her husband’s Oct. 8, 2000, death as a heart attack to get money from a malpractice lawsuit.

``This woman saw her husband as nothing more than a pot of gold,″ Martinez told jurors. ``Greed _ that is what this is all about to her.″

Using a battered wife defense, Wendi Andriano claimed her husband went into a rage when she told him she had an affair and the two got into a struggle with a knife.

``This is a case of domestic violence,″ said Daniel Patterson, Andriano’s attorney.

Joe Andriano, 33, was struck in the head at least 23 times and stabbed in the neck. Investigators also found pesticide in his stomach.

Wendi Andriano, who took the stand for nine days, said her husband took the poison to end his suffering and claimed he stabbed himself.

If jurors do not find aggravating factors, the judge will sentence the woman to either 25 years to life or life without possibility of parole; if they do, the defense will explain why Andriano shouldn’t receive the death penalty before she is sentenced.