Jury again convicts man of killing wife

A 39-year-old man was found guilty for a second time of killing his wife in 2002 and staging it to look like she crashed into a lake and drowned to cover up the murder.

A Chenango County Court jury deliberated nearly seven hours over two days before finding Peter Wlasiuk guilty Friday of second-degree murder in the death of his 35-year-old wife, Patricia.

Wlasiuk now faces a sentence of up to 25 years to life in state prison, although he has already served four years behind bars. Sentencing was scheduled for Oct. 24.

Prosecutors argued Wlasiuk smothered his wife on their property in Oxford in April 2002, put her in the bed of his pickup truck and pushed the truck into Guilford Lake.

Wlasiuk wanted to rid himself of his wife and collect insurance money to buy a country bar in Binghamton, prosecutors said.

The defense first claimed that Patricia Wlasiuk swerved to miss a deer and drove into the lake, but later said she drove into the lake intentionally.

Six years ago, another Chenango County jury convicted Wlasiuk of second degree murder, but a state appeals court overturned that verdict in August 2006, saying an accumulation of errors had denied Wlasiuk a fair trial.

Juror Dr. James Lentini told The Norwich Evening Sun that the jury was deadlocked, nine for conviction and three against, until the discovery of a notation on an evidence form submitted by the defense. The notes mentioned that Patricia Wlasiuk's diary contained passages that detailed a violent relationship and fear of death at the hands of her husband.

"Until that point I didn't think we could've broken the deadlock, but here were the victim's own concerns that her husband might try to kill her," Lentini told the newspaper.

Testimony began Sept. 9 in the retrial. Prosecutors called 58 witnesses and the defense nine.

The first trial also spanned about three weeks and included testimony from 58 witnesses. The original jury deliberated for a little more than four hours before reaching a guilty verdict.