Iraq war veteran gets life for killing Wisconsin cop wife

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 09, 2013 6:01 PM

(Reuters) - A decorated U.S. Iraq war veteran was sentenced on Friday to life in prison with the possibility of seeking release after 35 years for gunning down his wife, a Wisconsin police officer, while she was on duty early last Christmas Eve.

Benjamin Sebena, 30, pleaded guilty in June to first-degree intentional homicide for killing his wife, Wauwatosa Police Officer Jennifer Sebena, 30, outside a fire station in the Milwaukee suburb.

Under Wisconsin law, the conviction carried a mandatory life sentence, but Judge David Borowski was required to decide whether Sebena should be eligible to seek release in the future.

"This is one of the worst cases I have ever seen," Borowski said, adding, "You brought an act of war to Wauwatosa."

Prosecutors argued that Sebena killed his wife in a cold and heartless manner, shooting her five times in the face after waiting to ambush her. He then tried to cover up the murder before confessing after being confronted with the evidence.

Dr. Kenneth Robbins testified for the defense at sentencing that Sebena suffered from post traumatic stress disorder from his combat tours in Iraq that was about as bad as he had ever seen. He also said that Sebena had suffered traumatic brain injury.

The ex-Marine killed more than 60 enemy combatants in two tours of Iraq. He suffered leg, arm and chest wounds from mortar fire in 2005 during his second tour, receiving the Purple Heart, according to court records.

Borowski said the post traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury were mitigating factors, but not justifications. Sebena may petition for release when he is 65 years old.

Sebena's mother, Linda Sebena, wore his dog tags and displayed his Purple Heart medal in court, asking for mercy and saying, "In many ways, Jen is another casualty of war."

Sebena told Jennifer Sebena's family that he was sorry for taking their daughter and sister from them, and he said he would suffer the rest of his life for killing her, regardless of the sentence.

"You are going to make your choice. It's is your decision," Sebena told the judge. "But right now, I know for a fact that for the rest of my life I am going to be in a prison for taking away my wife. For taking away the one love of my life."

Jennifer Sebena had told a fellow police officer earlier in December she had been a victim of domestic violence and that her husband had put a gun to her head, according to the criminal complaint against him.

Sebena waited in ambush several hours and then shot her twice with a 9 millimeter handgun. He then grabbed her service weapon and shot her three times with that handgun, the complaint said.

The couple had met online when he was in Iraq and began exchanging emails while he was recovering from the wounds in California. The two began dating after he returned to Wisconsin.

(Reporting by David Bailey; Editing by Toni Reinhold)