ELYRIA — Julene Simko said her slain husband was “the love of her life” in 2013, but almost four years later, her murder trial for his death continued.
The interview, which took place Nov. 14, 2013, was part of Lorain County Prosecutor’s Office investigator Rick Thomas’s testimony Wednesday and was the first given since Jeremy Simko’s shooting death where Julene Simko had legal representation present.
During the interview, Thomas told Julene Simko she was a person of interest in her husband’s Nov. 18, 2009, shooting but was not being charged with anything at that time.
Since then, the 38-year-old Vermilion woman has been charged with murder, aggravated murder, felonious assault and tampering with evidence.
“It was a good relationship,” she said. “We got along very well, so we didn’t argue very often.”
In the interview Simko said her husband did hit her, but it was only one time and was toward the start of their marriage almost 10 years prior.
“I don’t even remember what it was about, to be honest,” she said in the interview. “He slapped me in the face, and I hit him back, and that was the end of that.”
Simko also told Thomas that since her husband’s death, she had begun seeing a psychiatrist regularly and had been diagnosed with depression and anxiety.
“It’s because of everything’s that happened,” she said.
As part of the interview, she recounted the events leading up to where she found her husband lying in a pool of his blood on the couple’s bed.
She said she was having a hard time sleeping and went to a couch on the third floor of the North Ridge Road home to try to sleep. She eventually drifted off but was awakened by a noise.
She said she went downstairs and tried to wake up Jeremy Simko only to realize that the bed was wet and “something felt wrong.” She thought she heard something in the hallway and fired two shots from a 9 mm handgun that was in a nightstand.
While on the phone with 911, the operator instructed Julele Simko to pull her husband off the bed and perform CPR to revive him and while investigators did find Jeremy Simko on the floor. Vermilion police Detective Sgt. Stephen Davis has said he doesn’t think she actually performed CPR.
Was CPR used?
Former county Coroner Dr. Paul Matus, who testified Wednesday, said Jeremy Simko’s body didn’t exhibit signs necessarily consistent with someone who had undergone CPR.
“You might see fist or hand imprints on the chest, which I did not detect, when I looked at the body,” he said. “And I looked at it firsthand, not in photographs. There can be bruising as well as a broken sternum or broken ribs, and there was nothing unusual in this autopsy.”
He also said because of the amount of blood involved and because people typically use their palms when doing CPR, there would have likely been palm prints on Jeremy Simko’s chest, but there weren’t.
“Well, we certainly know she can leave a palm print,” Assistant County Prosecutor Tony Cillo said, referring to a bloody handprint found on Jeremy Simko’s thigh.
Defense attorney Michael Stepanik asked Matus if broken ribs or injuries to the chest occurred in “100 percent of the cases where CPR is administered,” and Matus said no.
Julene Simko told investigators in interviews in 2009 and again in 2013 that she and her husband were attempting to buy a piece of property that butted up against what they already owned, and while it was causing them stress, they weren’t directing it at each other.
“The property was definitely on our minds,” she said. “We wanted the property, so that’s what we were aiming for. Was it stress between us? No, not necessarily. It was just in general.”
David Meadows, a mortgage loan originator at First Federal Lakewood and previously First Federal Savings of Lorain, said during his testimony Wednesday that he was working with the Simkos in November 2009 to obtain a hybrid loan that would have allowed them to refinance their current home as well as buy the land surrounding it.
Meadows said the loan would have been worth about $320,000 total but was not approved.
“It looked like there were business-related debts that were bleeding into personal ones that did have some late payments,” he said. “Although, they were current on the payments and the credit report was delayed. However, on Nov. 16, it was determined that the preapproval had been denied because of the late payments on the credit report and to First Federal Savings of Lorain.”
Neighbor Steven Latto said in his testimony Wednesday that he and Jeremy Simko had discussed the couple’s purchase of the land on several occasions because when the home was part of a farm, both parcels made up the property, and Jeremy Simko wanted to bring both of them together again.
Latto said on the morning that Jeremy Simko died, he didn’t hear the couple’s dogs bark, indicating there was an intruder, despite the fact that they were “very alert all the time” and would bark even if he was on his own property.
Latto, who is a teacher in Amherst, said he’s often up for work at 5:45 a.m. and while he would have been in the shower about 6 a.m. — around the same time Julene Simko called 911 about her husband being shot — he
didn’t hear any gunshots.
He did say since the area is more rural, gunshots are not uncommon because of hunters.
Latto said in 2003 he got his concealed carry permit along with the Simkos after a string of neighborhood break-ins.
He noted Julene Simko got her CCW permit using a revolver similar to the .357 Smith and Wesson that was used to shoot Jeremy Simko and since she received the permit, he assumed she was a proficient shooter.
The trial is set to resume 9:15 a.m. this morning before Lorain County Court of Common Pleas Judge Mark Betletski, who is deciding the case instead of a jury.
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