ELYRIA — Julene Simko wiped tears from her eyes Wednesday as she listened to taped interviews she gave on the day of her husband’s death almost eight years ago.
She listened along with the rest of those in the courtroom of Common Pleas Judge Mark Betleski, who will decide the case, as the interviews were presented into evidence for the trial where she is accused of murder and other charges surrounding the shooting of Jeremy Simko on Nov. 18, 2009.
The statements presented Wednesday, which included her second, third and fourth interviews with Vermilion police officers, offered a more measured version of the 38-year-old Vermilion woman than the ones heard Tuesday, in which she can be heard crying hysterically to officers and a 911 dispatcher.
The second, third and fourth interviews, one of which took place at the hospital and the other two which took place at Julene Simko’s parents’ house, made up the bulk of Vermilion police Detective Sgt. Stephen Davis’s testimony Wednesday.
Simko didn’t have legal representation present during any of her Nov. 18, 2009, interviews.
In the second statement Julene Simko gave Davis, she said she was sleeping on a couch on the third floor of the couple’s North Ridge Road home when she heard a noise and assumed it was her husband shooting at an animal.
She told him she then came downstairs and laid down next to her husband and felt blood on the bed before hearing a noise in the hallway, indicating there might have been an intruder in the house.
Julene Simko, who had a concealed-carry permit at the time of the shooting, said she took a 9 mm handgun from her nightstand and fired warning shots into the hallway.
In the third interview with police, Julene Simko mentioned that both her husband and a neighbor had witnessed someone they didn’t recognize walking on the opposite side of the street a few days before the shooting.
They also discussed that there had been three guns on the property — the 9 mm she had fired, the .357 Smith and Wesson revolver that was later determined to be the murder weapon and a third in one of the couple’s cars.
Davis said he conducted a gunshot residue kit on Julene Simko and at the time erroneously told her that the kit would be able to tell which guns she had shot.
At one point during the fourth interview, Davis can be heard telling Julene Simko that he has “some concerns that she knows more than she’s telling him.”
Julene Simko told Davis the couple had been stressed about buying a property that butted up against theirs on North Ridge Road and was therefore having a hard time sleeping, but it hadn’t caused any marital discord.
“The two of us were together all of the time,” she said in the interview. “We went to job sites together. I mean we were with each other all of the time.”
In the fourth interview, Davis also addressed with Julene Simko what he thought to be a problem with her statement that there had been an intruder in their home who had shot her husband as there was no visible sign of forced entry.
Defense attorney Michael Stepanik called into question how the .357 Smith and Wesson revolver was handled by police after officers arrived, noting that then-Vermilion police Sgt. Michael Reinheimer, who has since been fired from the department, placed the gun in his belt at the small of his back, potentially compromising DNA evidence that could have been pulled from it.
Stepanik began questioning Davis about a telecommunications harassment claim Jeremy Simko had filed with the Elyria Police Department about threatening phone calls Jeremy Simko had received in 1999 in addition to charges that he had slit a dog’s throat, to which Assistant County Prosecutor Tony Cillo objected.
“Just because something’s an investigation doesn’t mean it’s admissible in court,” Cillo said. “That’s just not how it works.”
Davis did say during the course of his investigation that he learned Jeremy Simko had a bit of a track record of upsetting people.
“My understanding was that he could be a hothead, but I’m not sure how this relates to this,” he said. “I’m not trying to be difficult. I just don’t know.”
Davis’s testimony is expected to enter its third day at 10 a.m. today.
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