Tes­ti­mony con­tin­ues in mur­der trial

The Morning Journal (Lorain, OH) - - FRONT PAGE - By Richard Pay­erchin rpay­erchin@morningjournal.com @MJ_Jour­nalRick on Twit­ter

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.

ERIC BONZAR — THE MORN­ING JOUR­NAL

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 court­room for day three of her mur­der trial. The 38-year-old Ver­mil­ion woman is ac­cused of fa­tally shoot­ing her hus­band, Jeremy Simko, in­side of their North Ridge Road home on the morn­ing of Nov. 18, 2009.

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