The body of Damian Ficarra's wife had just been found in their garage. She was strapped on her back to a moving dolly, silver duct tape wrapped around her ankles and chest, a bloody gash on her forehead, bruises on her face. Ficarra was found at the scene hiding under a trailer and taken to the Port Richey police station to be interviewed.
A recording of that interview was played Thursday during the second day of Ficarra's trial. He is charged with second degree murder and, if convicted, faces life in prison.
"What happened to her?" Officer Robert Kern asked. It was 4:40 p.m. June 24, 2010, the day Michelle Ficarra's body was discovered by her son.
Damian Ficarra sighed.
"Seriously, I don't know what happened to her. I know that she was screaming and she started vomiting blood, and it was like, 'Well, go ahead and vomit your blood. I don't care. You spit on me. You hit me,' " said Ficarra, 56. "She just went to the ground and I left her there. I just figured, 'I'm not going to help you. I wouldn't piss on you if you were on fire.' "
The couple had been together for nearly three decades. According to trial testimony, Michelle Ficarra, 53, was in poor health. She was 5 foot 3 and weighed 250 pounds and had cirrhosis of the liver. At the time of her death, she and her husband were both unemployed and their home was being foreclosed upon. This was the topic of their argument. Damian Ficarra's defense — the theory on which his freedom rests — is that his wife must have tumbled, hit her head and died. Ficarra didn't kill her, his lawyers say. He just hated her so much he didn't try to get help when he saw her lying on the floor.
"I've had it," Ficarra told the officer. "I'm tired of being picked on and abused. Verbally abused. Physically abused.
"I'm supposed to be the man."
He said whatever killed his wife happened two days prior to the interview, a Tuesday.
"Did she hit her head on anything?" Kern asked.
"I don't know. I wasn't paying attention," Ficarra said. "When she shut up that was great. It was like, 'Thank God.' "
Kern asked what Ficarra did after his wife fell.
"Did she need EMS?" he asked.
"I don't know," Ficarra said. He said he ignored her and felt like saying, " 'I don't care what you need,' " he said. "You know?"
He said he was "horrified" when saw her face down on the floor the next morning.
"I pushed her and she didn't move, and I was like, 'Oh God. If I call the police I'm f---ed. If I don't call the police, maybe I get away with something,' " Ficarra said.
Kern asked why Ficarra put his wife on a dolly.
"I couldn't get her fat a-- out of the f---ing living room," Ficarra said.
"Okay," Kern said.
"That's the God's honest truth. Just to move her out of there, it was like 'Pffft. God, I don't know what to do with you,'" Ficarra said. "I mean, it's like, 'She's dead. They're going to f---ing arrest me. I don't care anymore. I'm done.' "
Kern asked what he planned on doing with his wife's body. Ficarra said he didn't know.
"You were just going to leave her in there?" Kern asked.
"Yeah," Ficarra said.
"That's a little cold, isn't it?" Kern said.
"I don't care. I don't like her. I don't care. I'm glad she's dead," Ficarra said. "Honestly, Bob, there's no love lost after 28 years of giving your everything. Let me tell you something. You kick a dog too many times, he's gonna get up and bite you. Or he's gonna leave. So I left. That's what I did. I went out. I bought a couple of beers. I came home. She was laying there. I said, 'I've got to get your fat body out of my face because I don't even want to look at you.' "
Chief Medical Examiner Noel Palma said Michelle Ficarra had at least five injuries to her head and face from an unknown weapon. "Could they have been caused with fists?" asked Assistant State Attorney Bryan Sarabia.
"Yes," Palma said.
"Could they have been caused with objects?"
Palma said Michelle Ficarra died from blunt force trauma, which caused hemorrhaging of blood that choked her brain stem. She would have lost consciousness before dying. Sarabia asked how quickly she died.
"It depends how fast is the bleeding," Palma said. "If it's slow, it takes hours. If it's quick, you will die quick."
Ficarra is not taking the stand in his own defense. The trial is expected to conclude today.
Erin Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6229.