Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Greenfield, WI: Greenfield Woman Gets 15 Years for Murdering Husband

A Greenfield woman who shot and killed her husband whom she believed was having an affair with a neighbor will spend the next 15 years in prison for her crime.

Regina Rath, 46, was sentenced by Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge David Borowski on Monday to 10 years in prison and five years of extended supervision for killing her husband Vincent Rath inside their Greenfield home in June 2011. She’s also ordered to pay the victim’s family $8,322 to cover Vincent Rath's funeral costs.

Rath shot her husband in their home after the couple got into an argument when she claimed he was having an affair with a neighbor. She said he wanted to have sex with the woman in front of her. She gave several differing accounts of the incident to investigators and in a pre-sentence investigation. Rath said at one time Vincent was advancing at her and shot him in self-defense; she also claimed in other accounts the gun went off accidentally.

Rath pleaded guilty to the crime in June after the charges were reduced to first-degree reckless homicide.

While there was a history of issues between the couple, Borowski said he wasn’t convinced the victim was advancing toward her because his body was found sitting in a chair and there was no blood pools around, meaning her was either shot while sitting or while standing near the chair.

“This is not a situation where the gun just went off,” he said. “This isn’t a case where the gun went off accidentally. You committed a homicide.”

Prosecutor Grant Huebner asked Borowski to give Rath a long prison sentence in the case because of all the issues in her varied stories to investigators and her claims of physical abuse by her husband. He said Greenfield police were called to their home on several occasions between 2006 and the murder, however, in most instances the fights were verbal and in other cases Rath had been physically aggressive towards Vincent.

During an incident where she did sustain injuries during a 2009 incident, Huebner said her husband did as well because they had both fallen in an alleyway while drunk.

Huebner said while Rath does have a long history of physical, mental and sexual abuse against her in the past, the lack of consistency in her story to police and the evidence at the crime scene doesn’t show she was just protecting herself from the victim.

“The scene can’t even rule out that he was shot while sleeping,” Huebner said.

Defense attorney Patrick Earle, however, disagreed. He said Rath should be sentenced to three years of confinement and four years extended supervision because of her past.

“I could almost recommend Ms. Rath no longer be incarcerated,” he said.

Vincent Rath’s daughter and sister addressed the court before the sentencing, saying their lives have been drastically altered since the murder took place and they’ve lost a valuable member of their family.

Michelle Smith, Vincent Rath’s daughter, said because of the murder her young children will never get to know their grandfather, and the incident has traumatized the entire family.

“My family has suffered so much,” Smith said. “We lost a wonderful man.”

Rath also gave a brief address to the court where she fought back tears and said she was sorry for what happened. She said she loved her husband and she will probably never be happy again.

“I wish I could change what I did,” she said.

Rath will have 447 days credit towards the sentence for the time she has spent in custody since the murder.

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