Chicago Tribune

Self-defense claimed by woman on trial for killing her husband

By Sarah Downey
Special to the Tribune
June 10, 1999

ELMWOOD PARK -- Defense attorneys Wednesday characterized the 1996 slaying of an Elmwood Park man, who was shot nearly 40 times, as an act of insanity and self-defense, committed by a wife who was terrified her husband would harm her and the couple's 10-year-old daughter.

Rosalie Mennotti, 44, is charged with first-degree murder in the shooting of her husband, Nicholas Mennotti, 61, whose head was found riddled with bullets when police responded to a 911 call placed by Rosalie Mennotti about 3 a.m. on July 19, 1996.

Prosecutors have maintained the killing was part of a scheme engineered by a woman who was the sole beneficiary of her husband's life insurance policy.

Rosalie Mennotti also had purchased two one-way tickets to her native Italy for her and her daughter, said Cook County Assistant State's Atty. Andrea Brogan. The flight was scheduled to leave a few hours after the shooting took place in the couple's home.

"She planned the whole thing," Brogan said. "When the police got there, a blanket had been thrown over the suitcases because she was trying to hide them."

Michael Norris, one of Mennotti's three attorneys, said covering the suitcases and purchasing the alleged murder weapon were among the defense mechanisms Rosalie Mennotti had resorted to during her 17-year marriage.

Psychiatrist Henry Lahmeyer testified Wednesday that it appeared Rosalie Mennotti was in a psychotic state when she shot her husband.

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