June 29, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Dead woman’s aunt testifies in Auerswald trial

MEDINA — A Georgia woman testified Monday about a troubled marriage between her niece and Dennis Auerswald, who is on trial for allegedly killing his wife in 2009.

Josephine DuBois said her niece, Maureen Auerswald, had a good relationship with her family until she married Dennis Auerswald in 1995. After that, she said, Maureen Auerswald rarely visited.

Medina County Prosecutor Dean Holman shows Josephine DuBois a picture of her niece Maureen Auerswald, who died in 2009. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY MARIA KACIK KULA)

Medina County Prosecutor Dean Holman shows Josephine DuBois a picture of her niece Maureen Auerswald, who died in 2009. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY MARIA KACIK KULA)

“It was as though he didn’t want her around our family and was trying to isolate her,” DuBois said.

It was a third marriage for Maureen and Dennis Auerswald, who were living in Georgia at the time.

DuBois said she didn’t talk to her niece after Maureen Auerswald’s mother died in 1996 until around 2001. During that time, Maureen and Dennis Auerswald had moved to Illinois and then to Medina.

DuBois said her niece re-established contact shortly after the move to Medina in 2001.

“She always called me late at night when he was asleep, passed out or wasn’t home,” she said.

Common Pleas Judge Christopher J. Collier would not admit as evidence certain comments Maureen Auerswald made in e-mails to DuBois since they were based on hearsay. For example, she wrote that her husband deleted all her phone numbers from her phone so she couldn’t call anyone, and he had an online relationship with a woman from Bahrain.

However, Collier allowed comments that shed light on Maureen Auerswald’s frame of mind.

“I’ve had it. I can’t take any more of this lunacy. I can never have any peace as long as I’m with him,” she wrote to her aunt. She also said she was saving up money in case they divorced.

Dennis Auerswald told authorities he found his wife unresponsive and lying on the floor of their home next to a bottle of vodka on Feb. 9, 2009. She was taken to Medina Hospital and was flown to MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, where she died early the next morning.

Emergency room tests showed she had no traceable amounts of alcohol in her system. An autopsy revealed she died from acute intoxication of ethylene glycol, the main ingredient in antifreeze.

Auerswald was charged with murder and aggravated murder last June and pleaded not guilty the next month. His defense has maintained there is no evidence linking him to the antifreeze, and the only evidence prosecutors have is meant to damage Dennis Auerswald’s character.

In addition to DuBois, a bankruptcy expert testified Monday about Maureen and Dennis Auerswald’s several bankruptcy filings and home foreclosures.

Two life insurance executives also testified about policies in Maureen Auerswald’s name. Matt Pittarelli, an employee of New York Life, said she took out a $50,000 policy in 2006, but it expired in 2007.
Pittarelli said Dennis Auerswald called Feb. 11, 2009, the day after his wife died, to make a claim on the policy.

Prosecutors played the tape from the call, in which Dennis Auerswald told an employee his wife died from natural causes. They played a similar one last week, in which Auerswald called a different insurance company on the same day to make a claim on a $10,000 policy, which also had expired.

The trial is scheduled to continue today. Prosecutors have said they plan to call 50 witnesses throughout the trial and have called about 20 so far.

Contact Maria Kacik Kula at (330) 721-4049 or mkacik@medina-gazette.com.