By Dinesh Ramde
MILWAUKEE — An Iraq War veteran who initially pleaded insanity in the fatal shooting of his wife, a Milwaukee-area police officer, instead changed his plea to guilty Wednesday after two doctors concluded that his mental-health issues weren't severe enough to justify an insanity plea.
Benjamin G. Sebena, 30, was accused of ambushing his wife, 30-year-old Jennifer Sebena, as the Wauwatosa police officer conducted a pre-dawn patrol alone on Christmas Eve. He told investigators he was a jealous husband and had been stalking her.
Ben Sebena pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect to a charge of first-degree intentional homicide. But two separate doctors said that while the former Marine suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and other issues, he wasn't insane at the time of the crime.
Sebena pleaded guilty to first degree intentional homicide Wednesday afternoon in Milwaukee. He faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
Prosecutors will recommend Sebena be eligible for parole in 50 to 60 years. A judge could allow parole after 20 years.
Sebena was due to face trial next month, at which point prosecutors would certainly have introduced incriminating statements Sebena made to police.
He had acknowledged lying in wait for his wife outside the fire department where officers often take their breaks. He said he saw her and opened fire, and when she reached for her weapon he grabbed it from her holster and used it to shoot her in the face three or four times. He told investigators he wanted to make sure she was dead so she wouldn't suffer.
Jennifer Sebena had told a colleague a few weeks before her death that her husband had acted violently toward her and put a gun to her head, prosecutors said. Detectives who searched the couple's home found a gun with ammunition matching the bullet casings found at the scene. They also found Jennifer Sebena's service weapon stashed in the attic.
Ben Sebena's defense attorney, Michael Steinle, tried to have some of Sebena's comments to police thrown out because officers hadn't immediately informed him he had the rights to remain silent and have an attorney present. But Judge David Borowski ruled last week that police didn't need to read him his Miranda rights immediately because he didn't become a suspect until later.
Ben Sebena, who is being held on $1 million bond, served two tours in Iraq with the U.S. Marine Corps. He was honorably discharged in 2005 after suffering severe arm and leg injuries in a mortar attack.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
Copyright 2013 Associated Press