Testimony continues in murder trial
An officer continued his explanation of the records of the night a Vermilion man was shot to death.
An investigating officer continued his explanation of the records of the sights, sounds and actions of the night a Vermilion man was shot to death in his home.
On Sept. 14, testimony continued in the bench trial in Lorain County Common Pleas Court of Julene M. Simko, 38, who faces charges of aggravated murder and other charges in the shooting death of her husband, Jeremy Simko, 36.
He was shot in the head at their North Ridge Road home on Nov. 18, 2009.
Julene Simko has pleaded not guilty to aggravated murder, two counts of murder, two counts of felonious assault and a single count of tampering with evidence in connection to the murder.
Vermilion police Detective Sgt. Stephen A. Davis, a witness for the prosecution, continued his time on the witness stand as defense attorney Michael Stepanik and Lorain County Assistant Prosecutor Tony Cillo asked questions about police records.
They reviewed transcripts of Julene Simko’s 911 call and of at least four interviews with her and the police.
Answering questions from the attorneys, Davis recounted the sequence of events and the locations of Julene Simko, Jeremy Simko and their guns during the incident.
The lawyers cross-referenced the police records and picked apart details about Simko’s statements, the officers’ actions at the scene and what they found there.
The Simkos had surveillance cameras and Julene
Simko and her mother urged police to preserve the surveillance video before the system taped over the footage, Davis said in questioning by Stepanik.
Police never could identify a suspicious individual who was walking around the Simkos’ neighborhood one or two nights before the incident, Davis said.
He said he reviewed the surveillance camera footage and saw cars go by the home, but no one on foot.
Stepanik also asked if police followed up other possibilities, such as a menacing case that Jeremy Simko was involved in years before, or the fact the Simkos had a large safe that people knew about on the first floor of their house.
In further questioning by Cillo, Davis said the safe was five to six feet tall, not easily carried out, and with no damage to it.
Cillo came back to police procedure, a focus of defense cross-examination
the day before because a responding Vermilion police sergeant was not wearing gloves when he picked up the .357 revolver that was later found to be the murder weapon. The sergeant removed the bullets from the gun and tucked it in the rear waistband of his pants, testimony revealed.
That was not unusual because securing possible weapons is a top priority for officers responding to calls about possible intruders in homes, Davis said.
Cillo inquired about Julene Simko’s description of her husband’s head wound, “behind the eye,” compared to what officers found.
Speaking to police, Julene Simko said her husband did not commit suicide, Davis said.
That made officers suspicious because if she was in a different part of the home when Jeremy Simko was shot, she would not be in a position to know that, Davis said.
Reviewing a photograph of Jeremy Simko, Davis testified: “The entrance wound was in the back of the head.”
Simko, clad in a black pantsuit, black and white patterned blouse and black high heel shoes, appeared to listen attentively to Davis’ testimony.
Cillo asked Davis about the couple’s dogs barking when police arrived.
The prosecution played video from the dashboard camera of one of the police cars responding to the Simkos’ home.
The dash camera microphone recorded the sounds of Vermilion officers banging on the front door and yelling, “Police!”
In the courtroom, Julene Simko became emotional, wiping at her eyes when she heard the audio of herself sobbing.
The trial is scheduled to continue Sept. 15 before Common Pleas Judge Mark Betleski.
Julene M. Simko wipes tears from her eyes as dash cam footage of Vermilion police officers responding to the Simko home is played Sept. 14. Simko appeared alongside her attorney Jack Bradley in Lorain County Common Pleas Court Judge Mark A. Betleski’s...