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Marine vet who killed wife seeks leniency

Cites effects of service in Iraq

Aug. 7, 2013 - 10:23AM   |  
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MILWAUKEE — An Iraq war veteran will be sentenced to life in prison for killing his wife while she was taking a break during her overnight patrol shift for Wauwatosa’s police department, but he’s hoping to one day be eligible for parole.

Benjamin Sebena pleaded guilty to killing his wife, Jennifer Sebena, and is scheduled to be sentenced Friday to life in prison.

In a sentencing memorandum filed Tuesday, Sebena’s lawyer appealed to the court for leniency by granting him parole eligibility at some point. In the filing, Sebena details the psychological and physical effects of his combat experience, including his claim to have killed 68 people during his military service, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

The memo also suggests that Sebena believes he killed his wife so that she’d go to heaven because he feared she’d follow through on a threat to kill herself if he committed suicide first.

“He could not bear his wife losing her access to heaven if she killed herself as a result of his own suicide,” the memo said, according to WISN-TV.

Milwaukee County Circuit Judge David Borowski could make Sebena eligible to seek parole after 20 years, at the earliest.

Sebena, 30, served two combat tours with the Marine Corps and was honorably discharged in 2005 after he suffered extensive injuries in a mortar attack. He struggled to transition to civilian life and struggled with depression, insomnia, flashbacks and anxiety.

He waited for his wife outside a Wauwatosa fire station where she took a break during her overnight patrol shift. He shot her first with his own gun, then with her service weapon. After killing his wife, Sebena went home and tried to kill himself using two handguns, but neither discharged, the memo said. Police eventually called Sebena and asked him to come to the station, where he was questioned for about six hours before he was arrested.

Sebena tried to pursue an insanity plea, but doctors said his condition did not support it, though he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and a traumatic brain injury. In June, he pleaded guilty to first-degree intentional homicide.

To not raise Sebena’s decorated service and his trauma as mitigating factors at his sentencing would be grounds for a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, wrote attorney Michael Steinle.

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