Girlfriend: Soldier mentioned money day wife died
- Article by: RUSS BYNUM
- Associated Press
- March 25, 2014 - 1:50 PM
FORT STEWART, Ga. — A former girlfriend testified Tuesday that a Georgia-based soldier on trial for murder told her to expect "a lot of money" just hours before his pregnant wife was killed — leaving him to collect $500,000 in insurance and benefit payments from the Army.
A military judge heard a second day of witness testimony in the court-martial of 22-year-old Pvt. Isaac Aguigui, who faces an automatic life sentence if convicted of killing his wife, Sgt. Deirdre Aguigui, at their apartment on Fort Stewart on July 17, 2011. He's also charged with causing the death of their unborn child.
Samantha Thacker said she met Aguigui in 2010 as he spent the summer training in Arizona. She said they had already started a romance by the time she learned he was married, but said he promised her a divorce was pending. Thacker said they were still in close touch a year later, and on the day Aguigui's wife died, he had sent her text messages.
"One of them said he was coming into a lot of money and I would never have to work," Thacker said on the witness stand. She said when she later learned Aguigui's wife was dead, he said if she was killed in a car crash.
Prosecutors say Aguigui's rocky marriage and the hefty insurance payout prompted him to kill his wife, who was about seven months pregnant. A former Army buddy testified Monday that Aguigui told him that he handcuffed his wife during sex and suffocated her by putting a plastic bag over her head.
Aguigui has pleaded not guilty. Under questioning by his defense attorneys, Thacker noted Aguigui's text message didn't specifically mention his wife or insurance money.
Army investigators say Aguigui told them he had woken up from a nap to find his wife dead on the couch. Paramedics found marks on her wrists, but no other obvious wounds.
Military police found a pair of handcuffs on the couple's bed, along with a number of other sex toys. Aguigui told them he had cuffed his wife during consensual sex earlier in the evening, before he nodded off for a nap, said Justin Kapinus, the Army's lead investigator on the case.
"He stated that she enjoyed being tied up and that night they used the handcuffs," Kapinus said. "He said she enjoyed having her hands behind her back and laying on the handcuffs."
Aguigui is already serving a sentence of life without parole in a Georgia state prison after he pleaded guilty last year in a double slaying that occurred nearly five months after his wife's death. Civilian prosecutors say he used the $500,000 in insurance money to buy guns and bomb-making parts for an anti-government militia group that Aguigui formed by recruiting disgruntled soldiers. Civilian authorities say Aguigui ordered the deaths of former soldier Michael Roark and his girlfriend, Tiffany York, in December 2011 to protect the group and its plans.
Aguigui and three other soldiers were jailed about a week after Roark and York were shot to death in rural Long County near Fort Stewart. More than a year passed before the Army charged Aguigui in his wife's death in April 2013.
Pfc. Michael Burnett has also pleaded guilty in the deaths of Roark and York. The two soldiers accused of firing the killing shots — Pvt. Christopher Salmon and Pfc. Michael Burnett — are still awaiting trial.
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