MILWAUKEE (AP) — A decorated Iraq War veteran and self-described jealous husband waived his preliminary hearing Thursday on charges that he fatally shot his wife, a suburban Milwaukee police officer.
Benjamin G. Sebena, 30, is charged with first-degree intentional homicide in the Christmas Eve killing of Jennifer Sebena, also 30. She was found dead of multiple gunshot wounds to the head, including wounds inflicted with her own police firearm.
Ben Sebena was brought into court Thursday in a wheelchair and wearing a suicide-prevention vest. He did not speak except to confirm to the court commissioner that he understood the terms of his waiver.
Sebena is accused of ambushing his wife while she patrolled alone in Wauwatosa in the predawn hours of Christmas Eve. He told investigators that he is a jealous husband, according to the criminal complaint, but police have declined to speculate on a motive.
At a preliminary hearing a judge decides whether there's enough evidence to require a trial. If the defendant waives the preliminary hearing, the case proceeds to trial.
Sebena is scheduled to be arraigned Jan. 24, when he will be expected to enter a plea.
Milwaukee County sheriff's spokeswoman Fran McLaughlin said it is standard procedure for inmates on suicide watch to be wheeled into court and that the wheelchair has nothing to do with the injuries the ex-Marine suffered during a mortar attack in Iraq in 2005.
Other Wauwatosa police officers first suspected something was wrong on Dec. 24 when Jennifer Sebena failed to respond to radio calls. They found her body near a fire department where officers frequently take their breaks.
A police sergeant called Ben Sebena and told him to come to the station because his wife had been in an incident but Sebena didn't ask what happened, the complaint said. Later, when he was told at the station that his wife had been killed, he still didn't ask what happened to her.
Detectives who searched the couple's home found a gun in their attic that fires ammunition matching the bullet casings found at the scene. They also found Jennifer Sebena's service weapon hidden there.
Jennifer Sebena had told a colleague a few weeks earlier her husband had acted violently toward her and put a gun to her head, prosecutors said.
Ben Sebena, who is being held on $1 million cash bail, served two tours in Iraq with the U.S. Marine Corps. He was honorably discharged in 2005 after suffering severe arm and leg injuries in a mortar attack that year.
Dinesh Ramde can be reached at dramde(at)ap.org.