Thursday, February 11, 2010

Wife who set fire, ran over husband sentenced to life without parole

A woman who murdered her husband was sentenced to life without parole by a Michigan judge Monday, February 8. Linda Kay Stermer, 45, was found guilty by a Van Buren County circuit court jury of 1st degree and felony murder. On Jan. 7, 2007, Sterner set fire to the house she shared with her husband and sons. Her husband was incapacitated by the perpetrator by either medicine or a hit upside the head, according to prosecution witnesses.

Todd Stermer, 42, made it out of the house, according to testimony, but was run over by a van driven by his wife and died shortly after emergency personnel arrived.

Michigan State Police investigators testified during the five-day trial that the fire at the residence in the 66500 block of County Road 215 was deliberately set. Forensic laboratory specialists said Todd Stermer’s clothing had gasoline on them and a gas station employee testified to seeing Linda Stermer purchased gasoline that she dispensed into a container earlier on the day of the fire.

There was testimony linking Linda Stermer to another man, that she and Todd Stermer had been arguing and that she had sent their boys to a Kalamazoo mall on the day of the fire.

Even after her conviction and sentencing, Linda still claimed innocence. “I didn’t set the fire. I did not kill my husband. And at this point, I fully believe that it was not arson, either.”

Brad Sterner, the victim's brother, shot back, saying “The jury didn’t get it wrong, Linda. They got it right. When you go to prison, we will be relieved that his children will be safe and you’ll never hurt anyone again."

Helping those kids become productive adults will be part of Sandra Stermer's job. She thanked prosecutors for speaking for her. “I hadn’t thought about standing up to speak. The police, the prosecutors, the jury got it right. They spoke for me.”

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