Wife sentenced for killing 1984 Olympic bronze medalist

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VENTURA, Calif. (AP) The wife of a 1984 Olympic medalist was sentenced to a potential life sentence on Tuesday for shooting him in what she claimed was self-defense following years of abuse.

Jane Laut, 59, was given two mandatory, consecutive prison terms of 25 years to life for first-degree murder and using a gun during the killing, the Ventura County Star reported (http://bit.ly/2bCNeUC ).

She cried as her husband's relatives delivered victim impact statements, the paper reported.

Laut was the high school sweetheart of David Laut, who won a bronze medal in the shot put at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. At the time of his death, the 52-year-old was athletic director at Hueneme High School in Oxnard.

The Lauts were married for 29 years before he was shot to death in a yard of their Oxnard home shortly before midnight on Aug. 27, 2009.

Laut's defense argued that she had been beaten and raped during the marriage and that on the night of the killing, her husband slammed her head against the wall and threatened her and their 10-year-old son with a revolver.

Laut testified that her husband was shot as the couple struggled for the gun.

In his opening statement, defense attorney Ron Bamieh told jurors that they were involved in a life-and-death struggle.

''He was trying to get up on his knees when she starts firing. ... There was no aiming, no looking,'' Bamieh said. ''If he gets up, she is done and Michael is done. He kept coming and he would not stop.''

The prosecution said that Laut was shot six times, including in the back of the head, with a gun that had to be cocked before each shot.

Prosecutors also contended that Laut lied to police about the shooting and stood to gain $300,000 from her husband's insurance.

The defense wants a judge to release Laut on bail while her sentence is appealed. Attorney Mark Hart, who will handle her appeal, said it could take a year or more to reach an appellate court.

A hearing on the defense's bail motion is scheduled for next week.


Information from: Ventura County Star, http://venturacountystar.com