A man was convicted of murder for killing his wife with a shotgun 13 years ago – the night before the couple was going to be evicted from their St. Paul, Minn., home after foreclosure.
Nicholas Firkus was convicted of shooting Heidi Firkus, 25. His defense argued that the fatal shooting was accidental, the result of an intruder who broke into the house.
He initially told law enforcement the intruder struggled with him over the firearm, which he said went off twice, striking Heidi Firkus in the back and himself in the leg. She died at the scene, and Nicholas Firkus recovered from a gunshot wound to his upper-left thigh and groin.
Following an 11-day trial, Ramsey County jurors rejected the husband’s narrative, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Prosecutors argued that the impending loss of the family’s home and mounting financial troubles had turned the husband into a man who was “desperate, ashamed, and had run out of time.”
In the news release announcing the indictment, Ramsey County Attorney John J. Choi listed financial troubles and steep debt, including an overdrawn bank account and an REI credit card with an outstanding balance of $17,381.66.
Prosecutors also said he had made repeated false assurances to his wife that he was dealing with creditors and taking care of alleged fraud in their bank account.
Prosecutor Rachel Kraker said Nicholas Firkus refused to accept that he would be exposed as a fraud, so he did the unthinkable.
“He took Heidi’s life and saved his reputation,” the newspaper reported Kraker said during the trial.
His defense attorney Robert Richman argued that replacing financial ruin with murder didn’t make sense.
“[A]ll of this psychobabble that killing his wife would somehow save his reputation…makes no sense,” the defendant’s lawyer said, according to the newspaper. “You don’t kill the love of your life to spare yourself from embarrassment.”
The defense mustered character evidence from mutual friends of the couple. One of those friends reportedly testified that Nicholas Firkus taught him how to act in his marriage.
In response, prosecutors secured testimony from friends who said they had no idea that Heidi and Nicholas Firkus had to move and that they had hung out with the ill-fated couple just two days before the murder.
In the news release, Nicholas Firkus is alleged to have described the intruder as a 6 foot 1 or 6 foot 2 Black man wearing dark clothes. He initially said the burglar shot his wife.
He later told an investigator that “his finger was on the trigger and that he thinks he pulled it and that it went into Heidi’s body,” Kraker said during the trial.
The prosecutor reportedly added that there was no fictitious stranger to blame in those moments.
“It was the stranger she married,” Kraker said.
His defense attorney said police have been trying to prove that his client killed his wife for 13 years, remarking on the time it took prosecutors to bring charges against his client.
“What they brought is speculation, conjecture, and presumptions,” he said.
Kraker addressed that issue.
“Do not punish Heidi Firkus because justice took so long, too long,” Kraker said.
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]