During the early morning hours of October 8, 2000
, Wendi Andriano bludgeoned her 33 year-old husband Joe to death with a barstool and stabbed him in the neck with a 13-inch knife in the couple's Ahwatukee, Arizona apartment. His autopsy revealed that he had sustained 23 blows to the skull, and traces of sodium azide were also found in his system.
Approximately one hour before Joe's murder, his wife Wendi had called 911 at the behest of a co-worker, claiming that her terminally ill husband was dying. When paramedics arrived however, Wendi turned them away, stating that Joe had a do-not-resusciate order, and that his wish was to die. Paramedics left the scene. One hour later, Wendi called 911 again, reporting that she had stabbed and beaten her husband to death in self-defense. She also made claims that her husband was physically and psychologically abusive toward her. However, being that Joe was weak from chemotherapy and the sodium azide poisoning, he was unable to defend himself. Wendi was charged with murder.
Wendi AndrianoArizona Death Row
Wendi Andriano's husband became seriously ill and had to stop working. Allegedly resentful of her responsibilities, Wendi Andriano began frequenting bars and engaging in extramarital affairs. As her discontent increased, she hatched a scheme to kill her husband and profit from his death.
She asked her friends if they would pose as her husband so that she could obtain a life insurance policy. She researched the effects of various poisons and how to obtain them discreetly. Andriano ordered poison and had it sent to a separate business.
Although Andriano claimed that she was physically and psychologically abused by her husband, none of her friends ever observed any signs of abuse.
Andriano began slipping sodium azide capsules to her husband. In the early morning hours of October 8, 2000, Andriano called 911 to report that her husband was having a heart attack, but when paramedics arrived, she turned them away.
Several hours later, she again called 911 to report that she had stabbed and beaten him in self-defense. When paramedics arrived, they found Joe Andriano dead from repeated beatings and a stab wound to the neck. Weak from the poisoning and chemotherapy, he was unable to defend himself against Andriano, who struck him at least 20 times with a bar stool before stabbing him in the neck.
Source: Arizona Department of Correctionshttp://crime.about.com/od/deathrow/ig/Arizona-Death-Row-Inmates/az_andriano_w.htm
State v. (Wendi Elizabeth) Andriano, 215 Ariz. 497, 161 P.3d 540 (July 9, 2007)
(DEATH PENALTY UPHELD) Jury Trial/Indep. Review
PROCEDURAL POSTURE: A Maricopa County Superior Court jury convicted Andriano of first-degree murder for the death of her terminally ill husband. It found the state had proved the especially cruel aggravator (A.R.S. §13-751(F)(6)) and determined that the defendant should be sentenced to death. This is Andriano’s direct appeal.
(F)(6) (ESPECIALLY HEINOUS, CRUEL OR DEPRAVED) – UPHELD
Especially Cruel – Both Mental Anguish and Physical Pain
The evidence showed that Andriano poisoned her husband, who was terminally ill with cancer, and left him to suffer a long time. She knew from her Internet research that poisoning with sodium azide would cause her husband physical pain and mental anguish. He was conscious as he suffered the effects of the poisoning, and remained conscious until Andriano struck him at least 23 times in the back of the head with a bar stool. The Court concluded that cruelty was established based on either, or both, mental anguish or physical pain.
The court noted that Smith presented evidence of the following mitigators:
Stress of husband’s cancer
Strong religious convictions
Missionary and community work
Model prisoner Family life, good mother to two children
The Court found that none of this mitigation warranted substantial weight. The evidence established that Andriano did not kill her husband while defending against a domestic violence attack. The record also did not indicate that the stress of the husband’s cancer was any greater at the time of the offense than it had been two years earlier when it was first diagnosed. The Court held that even if all of the claimed mitigators were established, its quality and strength was not sufficiently substantial to warrant leniency in light of the especially cruel manner in which she murdered her husband.
JUDGMENT: Conviction and Conviction and death sentence affirmed.