June 28, 2010
The Wisconsin Court of Appeals recently affirmed the defendant’s first degree homicide conviction in the case of State v. Zurkowski. Mr. Zurkowski was convicted after a five day jury trial of the murder of his wife, June. The facts of the case are tragic and incredibly bizarre.
Suspicion first turned to Mr. Zurkowski when he called a local funeral home, indicated that his wife had died of an apparent heart attack, and requested they “come and pick her body up.” Employees of the funeral home contacted local law enforcement officials, who proceeded to the residence. The defendant first told them that his wife hit him first, that he acted in self defense, and that he wasn’t going to jail. He later asserted that the manner of her death was not any of their business.
The defendant admitted striking his wife a number of times, kicking her while she lay on the floor, and shoving a ceramic dish down her throat “to make her shut up.” However, he insisted he acted in self defense after she came running down the hall with a paring knife because he put the vacuum cleaner into a closet, rather than fixing it as she had requested. He did not sustain any injuries in the altercation.
Not surprisingly, the Court of Appeals made short work of Mr. Zurkowski’s argument that there was insufficient evidence to establish the intent element necessary to sustain a conviction for first degree homicide. Similarly, the Court quickly disposed of both his perfect and imperfect self defense arguments.
This case can be located on Westlaw by doing a find to 2010 WL 2486672, or by running either ti(State & Zurkowski) or “ceramic dish” in the Wisconsin cases data base. Numerous secondary sources regarding the use and applicability of self defense can be found by running ti(self-defense) in TP-All.