Warning: Some viewers may find the subjects discussed in this video objectionable.
ELYRIA — Julene Simko will serve at least 28 years for murdering her husband in 2009, a judge ruled Thursday morning.
Common Pleas Court Judge Mark Betleski handed down the 28-years-to-life sentence to the 39-year-old Vermilion woman, a sentence that her father-in-law, Robert Simko, said was justice.
“It’s been a long time, but I really think the prosecution was able to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt,” he said after the sentencing. “I hope she’s miserable in prison every day and every night. It’s been a lot of time, but we finally got justice for Jeremy.”
The prosecution said tensions were building in the Simkos’ North Ridge Road home in the days leading up to Jeremy Simko’s death as the bank recently had denied the couple a loan to purchase property behind their home.
This was presented as the trigger of the shooting, combined with the Simkos’ master-slave sexual relationship that often involved taking explicit photos and videos of each other and sexual abuse by her father that Julene Simko had suffered as a child.
The prosecution said the loan denial set off Julene Simko, and shortly before 6 a.m. Nov. 18, 2009, she used a .357 Magnum Smith & Wesson revolver to shoot her husband in the back of the head while he was sleeping.
In the defense’s version of events, an intruder — either a burglar or someone with an ax to grind — was to blame for the shooting instead of Julene Simko, who described her husband as her best friend and the love of her life during police interviews.
Julene Simko’s mother, Judy Maldonado, said the couple made each other better people, with Jeremy bringing Julene out of her shell and Julene helping to temper his emotions.
“I felt that Julene’s presence in his life and in his attempt to change his life made him a better person and that his presence in her life made her a stronger person, less timid and more able to handle difficult situations,” she said.
However, Maldonado also said that Jeremy, at times, had a violent and angry temperament.
“When she told me she loved Jeremy, I was desperately fearful,” she said. “He had a reputation for violence that I was aware of but much of which I wasn’t. I was afraid he would hurt my child and that he would hurt my family.”
Robert Simko said he understood Maldonado’s feelings but he believed if Julene Simko was truly unhappy in her marriage, she had other options.
“She could have walked out that morning or filed for divorce, but she didn’t,” he said. “She chose to do what she did.”
Julene Simko declined to make a statement Thursday, but defense attorney Jack Bradley maintained that she didn’t kill her husband and said his team will appeal the decision.
He also brought up several specifics about the couple’s sex life — talking explicitly enough that several members of the audience had to leave the room until he was finished speaking. He said even though his client was innocent, those acts could have proven to be a motive.
Robert Simko said he felt in bringing it up, Bradley tried to shift the case from murder to sexual assault.
“I think he crossed a line in bringing it up now rather than during the trial,” Robert Simko said. “They had marital problems, but I never thought another person did it. I don’t think we’ll ever know why she did it, but I’m glad we got the outcome we did.”
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