ELYRIA — Judy Maldonado shook her head at Assistant County Prosecutor Tony Cillo as he discussed her daughter, Julene Simko, and her lack of emotion regarding the death of her husband, whose murder she’s on trial for.
During his closing statements Tuesday, Cillo said when speaking with investigators in the time following Jeremy Simko’s Nov. 18, 2009, shooting death, Julene Simko expressed more emotion about losing out on a piece of property than losing Jeremy.
“The property, at the beginning and the end of this. It is the alpha and the omega in this case,” he said. “She cried when it was brought up, and you can say it was their lifelong dream to own this thing, which just plays into it, because when you want something, you’re going to fight about it, and it’s a motive to hurt someone. But it’s also reasonable to cry when you talk about the intimate details with the love of your life, but that’s where the tears aren’t happening.”
The property, which sat next to and behind the Simkos’ North Ridge Road home, was going to cost them about $120,000, but their loan application to purchase it had been denied the day before Jeremy Simko’s death. Julene Simko told investigators at the time that her mother was planning on co-signing for the loan to help complete the purchase.
Defense attorney Michael Stepanik said Julene Simko’s emotion was tied to the couple’s future.
“It’s a piece of property that would have expanded the thing they loved to do the most,” he said, noting the couple spent most of their time together outside. “That’s where they spent time with each other and talking about that property, which was going to be part of their future, how could that not evoke an emotional response? She got emotional because the future that that represented for her and her husband of 10 years, her best friend, it was something she might not ever go back to and, like him, it was taken from her. Those things go hand in hand.”
Stepanik also said the marital choices made by the Simkos, including making highly produced sexually explicit movies and a master-slave sex contract, were not a result of sexual abuse that happened to Julene Simko as a child, and she was a “willing participant.”
Defense attorney Jack Bradley said the investigation had several problems, including tips that were not followed up until years later and that they were not upfront with Julene Simko.
“I think the inconsistencies were not made by Julene,” he said. “I think they were made by the people investigating this matter and in the details of what they thought were important.”
Cillo said one of the major problems with Julene Simko’s story — that there was a third person in the house the night of her husband’s death — is that only one shot was fired from the .357 Smith and Wesson revolver that killed Jeremy Simko.
“The trigger wasn’t pulled twice because you know who should have been in bed with him? Her. And who knew she wasn’t in bed with him? Her,” he said. “She didn’t pay attention to that detail. That doesn’t make sense.”
Cillo and Assistant County Prosecutor Laura Dezort both took issue with the defense team saying the investigation was hastily put together because more than five years elapsed between Jeremy Simko’s death and Julene Simko being indicted.
“To say this case is a rush to judgment?” he said. “My God, snails rush to judgment faster than that.”
Dezort said every avenue in the case was looked at and considered before investigators came to the conclusion that Julene Simko was responsible for her husband’s death.
“The truth is that the evidence tells us it wasn’t an intruder that killed Jeremy Simko,” she said. “It wasn’t anybody like that. The evidence tells us that Julene was the one who killed Jeremy Simko. She’s the one who is guilty of killing him and then staging the scene to create the illusion of an intruder. She’s the one who did it.”
Lorain County Court of Common Pleas Judge Mark Betleski will begin deliberating the evidence today. Due to attorneys’ schedules, his decision will be presented no sooner than Oct. 12.
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