A jury agreed with the defense that a Brooklyn Park man, 51, was not guilty of first-degree murder.
Throughout his trial, Michael Collins Iheme's attorneys never contested the fact that he shot his estranged wife seven times in broad daylight as she headed home from her job at a St. Louis Park nursing home.
Instead, they argued that the 51-year-old Brooklyn Park man pulled the trigger in a fit of passion after Anthonia Iheme allegedly admitted to him that he was not the father of their youngest child. It was not, as prosecutors claimed, a premeditated slaying.
After eight hours of deliberation, a jury in part agreed, finding Iheme guilty of second-degree murder Thursday afternoon. He was found not guilty of first-degree murder and manslaughter.
The verdict followed a week-long trial, in which several witnesses recounted seeing and hearing Michael Iheme fire the shots that killed Anthonia Iheme, 28, as she sat in her car in the parking lot of Sholom Home West on July 24. Iheme, a Nigerian immigrant, called police from his cell phone to admit, "I have killed the woman that mess my life up."
Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Deborah Russell argued that evidence pointed to premeditation, including Iheme signing his car over to his roommate and leaving new emergency contact information at the day care center for their son and daughter, then 3 and 4, "in case something happened today."
Instead of the life sentence that comes with a first-degree murder conviction, Iheme is likely to be sentenced to about 32 years in prison.
His public defenders, Maria Mitchell and Nancy Laskaris, called the verdict "just," because of a jury that carefully considered the law, in that Iheme's "emotional reaction" did not constitute premeditation.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman stopped short of saying he was disappointed in the verdict. "We prosecutors believe in this system. It's a system that may not do what we ask, but we believe in it," he said. He said prosecutors will ask for the "top of the box," or the maximum sentence.
Iheme remains in the Hennepin County jail. Sentencing is set for March 4.
"I don't think it was a victory," Laskaris said. "I think justice was served."
Abby Simons • 612-673-4921