Iraq War Veteran from Fort Lewis Convicted of Killing Wife

San Francisco Chronicle

Iraq War Veteran Convicted of Killing Wife

An Army reservist was convicted of killing his wife, who had hailed him and other soldiers as heroes in a letter to the editor while he was serving in Iraq.

The jury found Matthew J. Denni, 39, guilty of second-degree murder Wednesday in the shooting death last March of his wife, Kimberly, 37. He had been charged with first-degree murder, but he testified he was in a rage because she had been having an affair, and the jury decided the crime was not premeditated.

Her body was found in May in a footlocker in Denni’s van after her brother reported her missing. Prosecutors said her husband had conceiled her body for two months.

The night of the shooting, the couple had argued and Kimberly Denni said she was going to going to her boyfriend’s house, Denni testified. “I just thought, `No, you’re not.’ I reached down, opened the drawer and pulled out the gun,” Denni said. He said he had not planned to kill her.

A supply sergeant based at Fort Lewis, [Washington] Denni served several months in Iraq before he was sent home in October 2003 after he was accidentally shot in the leg. He said he had been unable to sleep and had nightmares because of the stresses of war and collapse of his marriage.

In September 2003, Kimberly Denni had written to The Columbian newspaper, referring to a plan to release an action figure based on President Bush’s appearance aboard an aircraft carrier that May, declaring declaring major combat operations in Iraq to be over.

“If they want action figure heroes, it’s time they look at who the heroes really are,” she had written. “I wish people could understand that the soldiers are in Iraq because it’s their job, but many don’t want to be there.”

Denni faces 15 to 23 years in prison when he is sentenced March 10. The Dennis’ daughter, who was 7 when her mother was killed, is in the care of a relative.

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