Stephen Carl Allwine was found guilty Wednesday night of fatally shooting his wife and staging her death as a suicide.
Following six days of testimony that ended Tuesday, the Washington County jury deliberated for about eight hours after getting the case earlier Wednesday.
Amy Louise Allwine, 43, who was shot once in her right ear, was found dead on the floor of her bedroom in her Cottage Grove home in November 2016.
Stephen Allwine was charged with second-degree murder before a grand jury indicted him with first-degree premeditated murder in March 2017.
The penalty for a first-degree murder conviction is mandatory life in prison. Formal sentencing will take place Friday morning.
After the verdict, Amy Allwine’s parents and siblings said in a statement: “We can summon no words to describe life without Amy. We loved her and miss her tremendously. We now turn to the path ahead of privately healing and grieving.”
Prosecutor Fred Fink, in his closing argument, said evidence showed that Amy Allwine had been drugged with a life-threatening dose of scopolamine before she was shot with a 9-millimeter handgun in a hallway.
Stephen Allwine moved her body to the bedroom where he tried to disguise her murder as a suicide, Fink said.
“Physical and scientific evidence don’t lie,” Fink told the jury.
Fink said evidence showed the victim’s body was “posed,” with no blood spatters on the bedspread or nightstand next to her body and the gun resting on her left elbow even though she was righthanded.
Defense attorney Kevin DeVore disputed the prosecution’s case, telling the jury that the prosecution failed to present any evidence linking his client to the crime.
“They seem desperate to give you a motive,” DeVore said.
Questioning the idea that she was killed in the hallway, he said Amy Allwine weighed 240 pounds.
“Think how difficult it would be for one person to move that body,” he said.
DeVore also cast doubt on the prosecution’s timeline of events and said police didn’t investigate reports from neighbors of speeding cars late on the afternoon of the day Amy Allwine was killed.
“Somebody else did this. It wasn’t Steve Allwine,” DeVore said.
Much of the trial focused on whether Allwine used the dark web to find a hit man to kill his wife.
Prosecutors alleged he was having extramarital affairs, and because the United Church of God where he was an elder discouraged divorce, he tried to hire a killer through a website known as Besa Mafia.
Allwine spent bitcoin worth thousands of dollars to arrange her death, Fink said, but the would-be killers bilked him of the money.
“This defendant wanted Amy Allwine out of his life and wanted to be free to play the field,” Fink said, referring to Stephen Allwine’s affairs. “He planned, prepared for and was absolutely determined to kill her.”
DeVore portrayed the affairs as meaningless distractions from his client’s innocence and said the prosecution had no confessions, fingerprints, eyewitnesses or DNA evidence to prove guilt.
“They need you to make the leap,” he told the jury. “The state has theories, all built on assumptions and speculations.”
Amy Allwine owned a dog training business. Fink, in his closing statements, showed photographs of Amy Allwine to jury members, telling them that contrary to her husband’s plotting she thought she was happily married.
“Her life was stolen from her,” Fink said.