After getting into an argument with his wife, Loren Zuraff shot her three times in the back.
After two hours of deliberation, a jury convicted Zuraff Friday of first-degree murder with a firearm. He was immediately sentenced to life in prison by Judge Harb.
Assistant State Attorney Kristie Ducharme walked jurors through the events leading up to the murder on June 22, 2016.
Prior to the incident, Loren Zuraff confided in one of his friends, Jackson Hampson. Zuraff told Hampson that when he and his wife Lisa argue, he has contemplated killing her.
Zuraff said he “thought about pointing a gun at her head and killing her.”
When Loren and Lisa Zuraff got into an argument near their pool on June 22, Loren left the disagreement to mow the yard. But when he returned, he had a gun, and he shot Lisa three times.
He then laid her body on the pool steps and called 911.
When law enforcement arrived, a black handgun was found submerged in the water near the pool steps Lisa Zuraff was found on. Her cell phone was found in the middle of the pool, and two bullets were found five feet past her phone.
Three shell casings were also located in the pool.
Loren Zuraff testified in trial Friday, saying that when he returned from mowing the lawn, Lisa had a gun in her hand. He claimed she waved it around before turning it on herself and threatening to commit suicide.
Loren told jurors he distracted his wife by kicking her phone in the pool and trying to wrestle the gun away from her. He testified that Lisa was facing him with her hand on the trigger, and the gun fired by accident while he was trying to take it from her.
But testimony from the medical examiner showed that the entrance wounds from the gunshots were in Lisa’s back.
In closing statements, Ducharme reminded jurors that the medical examiner’s testimony directly refuted Loren Zuraff’s story about the shooting being an accident.
“(Loren) testified that when this accident happens, Lisa is facing him,” Ducharme said. “If she’s facing him, there would be entry wounds to the front of her, and we don’t have that.”
Ducharme told the jury that Lisa Zuraff was sitting on the pool steps when the first shot was fired into her back. She then attempted to get away and was shot two more times, dropping her phone in the water.
“The bullet entered her body from the back because the shooter was standing behind her,” she said. “Loren shot her three times in the back. And he had plenty of time to think about what he was doing before and while he was doing it.”
The defense claimed that Loren’s actions were not out of anger or frustration – they were out of fear that Lisa Zuraff would harm him or herself. The defense also said that Loren was audibly upset on the 911 call, which supports his testimony about it being an accident.
But Ducharme argued that Zuraff’s emotions were because he knew he would be held accountable for what he’d done.
“Of course he was upset after killing his wife, he was about to spend the rest of his life in jail,” she said.