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Jury hears tape of man denying poisoning his wife

For eight hours, Federal Way police questioned a pest-control business manager about whether he poisoned his wife with strychnine.

And throughout the four hours of his interrogation that a jury watched on video Wednesday and Thursday, Joseph Naimo, 63, denied buying or possessing strychnine. He also adamantly insisted he did not kill his wife, 53-year-old Ann Marie Naimo.

Naimo maintained his wife loved being married to him. But he said there was only one possible way his wife ingested strychnine.

“Annie had to put it in herself, and I don’t know where she got it,” Naimo told police when he was arrested on May 20, 2009.

Naimo is charged with first-degree murder in the death of his wife of 10 years on Nov. 28, 2008, at their Federal Way home.

King County prosecutors say Naimo had access to strychnine and specialized training in the use of such poisons. They contend he killed his wife so he could continue an affair with her best friend.

Naimo admitted having a close friendship with the woman but denied any sexual relationship with her or ever cheating on his wife.

During the recorded questioning, two lieutenants laid out a time-line in which Naimo was the only one with his wife when she died and for the hour beforehand required for strychnine to be lethal.

As the interrogation neared eight hours, the exchange grew heated.

“I’m sitting here trying to think: Did you do this on purpose?” asked Lt. Tom Robinson.

“I didn’t do it on purpose, (or) on accident,” Naimo said.

“You did it,” Robinson said.

“No, I did not,” Naimo said.

“All indications are you did it,” Robinson said.

“I don’t care what the indications are,” Naimo countered. “I didn’t hurt my girl. I loved her.”

Naimo was left alone for long periods during the questioning. He fidgeted, blew his nose, put his head down, even said the Lord’s Prayer.

Naimo’s recorded interrogation could be the only testimony the 12-member jury hears from the defendant during the trial now in its sixth week. When asked whether Naimo will testify, his lawyer, Les Tolzin, replied: “Maybe.”

Jurors watched the four hours of interrogation, which King County Superior Court Judge Deborah Fleck admitted into the trial, on a 42-inch flat panel television at the Regional Justice Center in Kent.

Last week, Ann Naimo’s daughter, Angelee Hunotte , testified that she found a bottle containing strychnine in her mother’s dresser after she died, Tolzin said. The daughter bought it at a garage sale and gave it to her mother for her collection of bottles, Tolzin said during an interview Thursday.

That bottle was the only way Ann Naimo could have obtained strychnine, Tolzin said.

Ann Naimo had been drinking heavily on the day she died, but the King County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled strychnine killed her.

Joseph Naimo remains in jail at the Regional Justice Center in lieu of $1 million bail.

Tolzin will present his case next week, followed by closing statements.

If convicted of first-degree murder, Naimo could receive a prison sentence of 20 years to 26 years, eight months.

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