Not only was Joe Andriano’s death in October 2000 "horrific, ghastly and senseless," it was utterly unnecessary.
The 33-year-old Ahwatukee Foothills man was already dying, but his wife couldn’t wait for nature to take its course so she killed him, deputy Maricopa County attorney Juan Martinez told jurors Tuesday in opening the county Superior Court trial.
Wendi Andriano, 33, plotted the slaying for months before finally accomplishing the deed on Oct. 8, 2000, Martinez said.
Not only did Wendi Andriano have two affairs in the weeks before her husband’s death, but she called multiple insurance companies in an attempt to get policies on her husband, Martinez said. She even asked two men to impersonate Joe Andriano during the required physical exams — offering one of them $10,000 if he would do it, the prosecutor said.
Moreover, Martinez said, Wendi Andriano was poisoning her husband with sodium azide — a pesticide she purchased using a false name.
"Wendi and Joe’s story is not as simple as prosecutors would like you to believe," defense attorney David DeLozier told jurors.
The poison was purchased because Joe Andriano wanted to "control his own exit from this earth," DeLozier said.
Joe Andriano’s cancer went undiagnosed for four years despite having numerous masses removed from his neck, Martinez said. Wendi Andriano had been told by their attorney she could get as much as $20 million if her husband died before a medical malpractice lawsuit went to trial.
On Oct. 8, 2000, paramedics found Joe Andriano in the couple’s apartment dead and covered in blood after Wendi Andriano called 911. Martinez said Joe Andriano had been struck in the head at least 23 times and stabbed in the neck with a 13-inch knife.
Also, there was sodium azide in his stomach, Martinez said.
DeLozier said Wendi Andriano led a sheltered life until she met Joe Andriano. DeLozier portrayed her as a loving and devoted wife who believed it was her duty to be subservient to her husband.
"Wendi did everything he wanted her to do, even to make it look like he died of natural causes," DeLozier said, referring to buying poison that can create symptoms similar to a heart attack.
DeLozier was expected to finish his opening statement today.
Court records indicate the defendant is claiming selfdefense.