Trial lingers for Federal Way man accused of poisoning wife

After weeks of testimony, a jury on Thursday continued to debate the fate of accused murder suspect Joseph A. Naimo, 63, of Federal Way.

Naimo is charged with first-degree murder in the poisoning death of Ann Marie Naimo, 53. If found guilty, he faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison for the murder of his wife of 10 years.

The King County Superior Court trial was held at the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent before Judge Deborah Fleck. The trial went on for more than seven weeks, with a considerable number of witnesses taking the stand. Closing statements lasted eight hours, beginning Monday and continuing into Tuesday.

Prosecutors argued that Naimo, a pest control manager, poisoned his wife. Naimo's lawyer argued that it was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Naimo murdered his wife and Ann Naimo had ingested the poison herself in a suicide attempt.

The 12-member jury began deliberating Tuesday afternoon and will continue until it reaches a verdict.

Emergency call

At 6:12 p.m. Nov. 28, 2008, police and fire crews were summoned the Naimo home in the 2800 block of South 308th Lane by an emotional Joseph Naimo. They found Ann Naimo unresponsive and pronounced her dead approximately 30 minutes later.

Police questioned Joseph Naimo. He told them he loved his wife and was happily married. He also said he and Ann were alcoholics, and after a series of sober years, they had recently started drinking again. Ann drank heavily the previous day, Thanksgiving, and woke up the next day with a hangover, which she attempted to get rid of by consuming more alcohol, according to the court papers.

Naimo told police he and his wife returned home from a casino that night, ate leftovers and verbally argued over her alcohol consumption. Ann retreated to a back room after the disagreement, according to court records. She began vomiting while she sat and after a few minutes, Naimo walked into the room to find Ann awake but not coherent, according to court documents.

Naimo reported he performed CPR on his wife and called for help. Police found no indication of foul play, but a cause of death could not be identified, according to court records. An autopsy was arranged with the King County Medical Examiner's Office.

Cause of death

Ann was in good health at the time of her death and nothing physically suspicious was apparent in the autopsy. A toxicology test was ordered. While the results were pending, Joseph Naimo phoned the medical examiner's office to inquire about the cause of his wife's death several times. He asked whether she suffered a heart attack. The toxicology results were returned in February 2009.

The test revealed lethal levels of strychnine, a pesticide poison, in Ann's blood and stomach. Strychnine causes one's muscles to contract, similar to a seizure, according to court documents. A person exposed to the poison generally remains awake while the poison shuts down the respiratory system. Strychnine can be obtained in liquid, powder or crystal form. Low levels of the poisoning will cause death if left untreated for 24 to 48 hours, and a high dosage could kill a person within an hour, according to the court records.

At the time of her death, Ann had a .18 blood alcohol level, according to the documents. Non-lethal amounts of prescription medications were found in her bloodstream, according to court documents. Ann was not known to be on any medications. Federal Way police began a homicide investigation.

An arrest is made

On May 22, 2009, six months after Ann died, Joseph Naimo was arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder. He was serving as the general manager of Kent's AAA Pest Control and had more than 30 years experience in the pesticide business at the time.

Phone records show Naimo called a good friend of Ann's several times the day of his wife's death and 149 times between Nov. 1 and Nov. 28, according to court records. Naimo told police he and the woman were not having a sexual relationship but had kissed and held hands prior to Ann's death, according to court records.

Naimo was charged for first-degree murder May 26, 2009. He pleaded not guilty to the crime on June 8.

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