Mon10202014

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Jury finds 'Bubble Wrap' attacker guilty of murder attempt

A jury last week found Laura Jean Wenke, known as the “Bubble Wrap” attacker, guilty of four charges, including attempted murder.

According to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office, the jury deliberated for four hours over two days before returning guilty verdicts on four charges levied against the 53-year-old Los Altos resident. Wenke was also found guilty of domestic violence, assault with a deadly weapon and assault with a stun gun in the first of a two-phase trial.

The June 3 verdicts came nearly three years after Wenke appeared at her husband’s workplace in Redwood City covered in Bubble Wrap that she wore underneath a mechanic’s suit. Wenke used a stun gun on her husband – who was working on his computer when the attack occurred – and proceeded to stab him with a knife multiple times in the chest and neck, according to the DA’s Office.

At the time, Wenke and her husband were in the midst of a divorce. Wenke allegedly became angry with her estranged spouse after learning that he had a new girlfriend. The victim, who survived the attack, had a $2 million life insurance policy at the time that listed Wenke as beneficiary.

Per California law, the trial’s second phase – to determine the validity of Wenke’s plea of not guilty by reason of insanity – is underway. District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe told the Town Crier that the second phase, which began Thursday, consists “almost totally” of testimony by mental health experts and perhaps family members and friends who will speak to her conduct leading up the stabbing.

Wagstaffe expected the second phase to proceed faster than the first, which lasted 20 days before the verdict came down.

“This will go very quickly,” he said. “My guess is that this will be done in the next week.”

He called the burden of proof on Wenke’s defense team “an uphill climb, particularly since they had a lot of psychiatric testimony in the first phase.

The jury already rejected the defense’s first attempt at an insanity defense.”

Should the jury reject Wenke’s insanity defense, Wagstaffe noted, sentencing would likely take place 30-60 days later. Wenke faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

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