Aggressive prosecution calls for aggressive defense in case of wife facing manslaughter charge after husband’s suicide in Miami-Dade

Miami-Dade manslaughter charges have been filed against a woman who allegedly handed her husband the gun that he used to kill himself, the Miami Herald reported.

The circumstances of this case guarantee it will be watched closely by criminal defense attorneys in Miami as well as attorneys and court watchers throughout the nation. While the case is bizarre, it is the defense that is presented, and what she is ultimately convicted of, that counts.

The Herald reports the woman was tired of bickering with her husband and listening to him complain that he wanted to die. So she asked him if he wanted his pistol. When he said “yes,” she tossed it on the couch next to him and he shot himself in the head.

Prosecutors this week announced that the 56-year-old woman was being charged with manslaughter because of her “reckless disregard for human life” in the May 2009 death.

She has pleaded not guilty. The couple had been married for seven years and had no children. Relatives describe the husband as a longtime South Miami-Dade auto mechanic who was an avid fisherman and was not known to talk of suicide.

The defendant reportedly told police that the couple had been arguing over him not taking his blood pressure medication and that he had been drinking and was likely depressed. She allegedly retrieved his .22-caliber pistol from a zippered pouch in a dresser drawer and tossed it on the sofa. When she turned to walk into the kitchen, she heard the gunshot.

The Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the death a suicide and said the husband’s blood-alcohol level was .14, nearly twice the legal driving limit of .08 in Florida.

The case is not without precedent: A man was charged with manslaughter for giving a despondent woman a loaded gun outside a Dania Beach bar in 1986. A Broward County judge dismissed the manslaughter charge but it was reinstated on appeal and the defendant was convicted. He was sentenced to two years in prison and ordered to perform 300 hours of community service.