Hoerig murder confession detailed in evidence hearing
By Jordan Cohen
Defense lawyers want Claudia Hoerig’s talk with an FBI agent about the events leading to her husband’s death kept out of her upcoming trial.
The suppression hearing, which began Thursday, continues today before Judge Andrew Logan in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court.
The prosecutor’s office says Claudia Hoerig admitted shooting Karl Hoerig, 43, a commercial airline pilot and Air Force major, three times in the back in their Newton Falls home in March 2007.
Claudia Hoerig claims that instead of committing suicide, she shot her husband after he told her to take her life in the cellar so that she would not bloody an upstairs floor.
She fled to her native Brazil immediately after the shooting where she fought extradition for nearly 11 years before Brazilian courts ruled against her.
Claudia Hoerig, now 53, is charged with aggravated murder. Her trial has been rescheduled to Sept. 17.
According to prosecutors, her admissions occurred twice. Once on the nearly nine-hour flight during extradition from Brazil to Ohio in January and again later that night during a recorded interrogation at the Trumbull County Sheriff’s Office.
According to testimony, Brazilian authorities told Hoerig she was being moved to another jail. She did not realize she was headed back to the United States until informed shortly before the flight.
Hoerig’s attorneys from the Ohio Public Defenders Office have asked Judge Logan to suppress those statements and other evidence, claiming authorities violated her constitutional rights because they “were not knowingly and voluntarily given.”
The testimony during Thursday’s hearing appeared to contradict the defense’s arguments, however.
Anthony Sano, an FBI special agent assigned to return Hoerig to the United States who accompanied her on the return flight, said he “decided not to interrogate her” at the request of county Prosecutor Dennis Watkins.
Sano and another witness, William Boldin, U.S. Marshal senior inspector, said both agencies have a policy of not interrogating during an extradition. “We only give Miranda warnings if we’re going to interrogate,” Sano said.
Miranda warnings refer to law enforcement’s responsibility to advise criminal suspects of their right to silence and legal counsel.
Suspects can sign a waiver if they agree to an interrogation. Boldin said Hoerig signed the waiver before the interview at the sheriff’s office.
Sano and Boldin testified any questions put to Hoerig during the flight dealt only with her family life in Brazil and not to the killing of Karl Hoerig.
“She brought it up, [and] she was very talkative,” Sano testified. “It came out of nowhere.”
“I have something to tell you,” she said according to Sano. “A wife doesn’t kill her husband without good reason.”
The now-retired agent testified Hoerig said she “suffered from depression” and claimed to be a victim of “mental and sexual abuse” by her husband. She told Sano and Boldin she had purchased a gun to kill herself but shot her husband instead after the comment she claimed he made about the blood.
In addition to her statements, the defense wants the court to suppress evidence taken from the Hoerig home and the family’s cars, one of which Claudia Hoerig abandoned in Pittsburgh before her flight to New York and later to Brazil.
Two former officers from the Newton Falls Police Department and sheriff’s office testified they had followed proper procedure in securing search warrants.
Before Thursday’s testimony, Judge Logan called the defense motion to move the trial out of the county premature. “We’ll find out when choosing a jury,” the judge said.
Watkins said he expects Judge Logan to request legal briefs from both sides before rendering a decision.