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Jurors hear 911 call from Hernando man charged in wife's death

BROOKSVILLE — Alan Osterhoudt Jr. sat still and stared straight ahead as his recorded voice filled the courtroom.

"I just shot my wife," Osterhoudt told the 911 operator in a soft, flat voice.

"You shot your wife? Why did you shoot your wife?" the operator asked.

"We had an argument," Osterhoudt replied. A moment later, his voice broke with emotion: "I've done the most heinous thing I've ever done in my life."

The recording played Tuesday morning in Hernando County Circuit Court for a jury is the basis for the second-degree murder charge against Osterhoudt, 63. The body of 65-year-old Maria Osterhoudt was found that evening, Feb. 25, 2012, on the floor of the master bathroom of the couple's Spring Hill home. The St. Petersburg College professor had been shot once in the back of the head.

"What it all boils down to, more than anything else, is what you'll hear on the 911 tape," Assistant State Attorney Bill Catto said during opening statements.

Defense attorney Kenneth Foote told jurors that investigators made assumptions as they built a case around the call.

"What the state of Florida will not be able to do is tell you anything surrounding that death," Foote said. "You're going to find out this is a case of jumping to conclusions."

Foote said the evidence does not support the second-degree murder charge, and that there was no indication of "ill will or spite." He didn't say which lesser offense, if any, jurors should decide that Osterhoudt committed that night.

Later Tuesday, Hernando sheriff's deputies testified about what they found when they arrived that evening at the spacious Florida-style ranch home on Raymond Place in the Lake in the Woods subdivision.

Osterhoudt, who worked as an air-conditioning repairman and had been married to Maria Osterhoudt for 20 years, was sitting on the ground near the front door. He appeared "dumbfounded," said Detective Tony Aguiar, who was a patrol deputy at the time.

"Just a blank stare," Aguiar said.

Deputy Adam Harris helped escort Alan Osterhoudt to a waiting patrol car. He was distraught but not combative, and he made a statement, Harris said: "My life is over."

Foote asked Harris if he knew what Osterhoudt meant by that. Harris said no.

Maria Osterhoudt's body, clad in pajamas and black slippers, was lying face up in a pool of blood. Deputies found a .38-caliber revolver in an open nightstand drawer, right where Alan Osterhoudt told the 911 operator he had left it.

No fingerprints were found on the gun, and a firearms specialist with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement testified that she could not confirm the bullet found in Maria Osterhoudt's head came from the gun found in the drawer.

Circuit Judge Anthony Tatti refused to allow Catto to show jurors a one-page, handwritten note that Catto said Maria Osterhoudt had written to her husband before her death.

Catto said the note was relevant because it could help explain why Osterhoudt might have shot his wife that night. Tatti called it "hearsay in its purest form."

"If you want a divorce, your wish is my command," the note said. "I have no intention of letting you spread our misery throughout the rest of my life."

The note makes a reference to alcohol.

"I don't need nor look for apologies because you were drinking," it said. "I've paid my dues and more."

If convicted on the second-degree count, Osterhoudt faces a maximum sentence of life in prison, with a minimum mandatory of 25 years because a firearm was used.

Osterhoudt remained stoic throughout the day. He looked down when images of his wife's body appeared on a large television.

Maria Osterhoudt's son, Raymond Carter, who called Alan Osterhoudt Dad, sat behind Catto's table and kept his eyes locked on the screen.

Reach Tony Marrero at tmarrero@tampabay.com or (352) 848-1431. Follow @tmarrerotimes on Twitter.

Jurors hear 911 call from Hernando man charged in wife's death 09/24/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 9:52pm]
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