HASTINGS, Minn. (AP) — Jurors in Dakota County have convicted an Apple Valley man on all charges in the death of his pregnant wife.
The jury deliberated 11 straight hours before returning its verdict against Roger Holland in the March strangulation death of Margorie Holland, who was 15 weeks pregnant.
The defendant did not visibly react when the verdict was read about 1 a.m. Tuesday. Some of the victim's family members cried quietly, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press (http://bit.ly/1bLyvzC ).
Holland, 37, was convicted of two first-degree and two second-degree murder charges, which carry a sentence of life in prison without parole. One count of each charge applied to the death of the fetus.
Defense attorney Marsh Halberg said Holland was disappointed and surprised by the verdict. The defense contended that investigators decided from the start that Holland was guilty and ignored other evidence or explanations, including the possibility that his wife fell down some stairs.
During closing arguments, the prosecution told jurors that the couple's marriage was falling apart, and they said Margorie Holland, 37, was talking about leaving her husband. Dakota County prosecutor Phill Prokopowicz said Roger Holland had been lying to his wife about having a job, and that he would have been ruined had she left him.
Prokopowicz said Holland put himself in a difficult situation by claiming he left Margorie at home on March 7 to get breakfast and returned 20 minutes later to find she had collapsed.
There were no signs of forced entry, and Holland "created this short window of opportunity that only he could enter," Prokopowicz said. He underscored the medical examiner's finding that Margorie died of strangulation and had cuts, bruises and neck injuries that were not fatal.
Prokopowicz also said Internet searches about neck breaking and breaking necks from falling down stairs pointed to premeditation, the key element of first-degree murder.
Holland told first responders he found his wife's body at the bottom of the stairs. Either the searches were "an incredible coincidence" or part of a plan to try to cover up a murder, Prokopowicz said.
Information from: St. Paul Pioneer Press, http://www.twincities.com