SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The wife of a Navy physician stabbed him through the heart after he took a therapeutic dose of sleep medication, a prosecutor said Monday, but a defense attorney said his client is guilty of voluntary manslaughter, not murder.
Jennifer Trayers, 43, is on trial for first-degree murder in the December 2010 death of Lt. Cmdr. Frederick Trayers, her spouse of 18 years.
In her opening statement, Deputy District Attorney Fiona Khalil told a jury that the defendant fatally stabbed the 41-year-old victim the morning of Dec. 4, 2010, after he got off work at Naval Medical Center San Diego.
Frederick Trayers was stabbed twice in the chest, eight times in the back and had defensive wounds on his hands, the prosecutor said.
One of the stab wounds to the chest went straight through the heart, Khalil said.
Frederick Trayers was having an affair with a woman he had met on a hospital ship, and the defendant had accumulated e-mails, phone records and other communications between her husband and the other woman, Khalil said.
The morning of the murder, the defendant sent her husband's mistress an 8-page single-spaced letter, saying, "My husband is not going to be yours" and "I was the last person he was with," according to the prosecutor.
When the victim didn't show up for work on Dec. 6, 2010, police broke into the couple's North Park condominium and found Frederick Trayers dead on one side of their bed and Jennifer Trayers on the other side of the bed. She had multiple superficial cuts to her chest. The victim died almost instantly, Khalil said.
The defendant "never called for help, even though she could have," the prosecutor said.
Defense attorney Kerry Armstrong told the jury that his client attacked her husband 90 days after finding out about his affair.
Armstrong said the victim had continued to deny the extra-marital affair and told his wife he would never leave her.
Frederick Trayers had cheated on his wife in the past and Jennifer Trayers also had an affair with a co-worker a number of years ago, Armstrong said.
In October 2010, the defendant purchased computer software to capture e-mails between her husband and his girlfriend, the defense attorney said.
In late November, Jennifer Trayers hit "rock-bottom" and contemplated suicide, Armstrong said.
"The pressure-cooker's building inside Mrs. Trayers," her attorney said.
The morning of the killing, Trayers grabbed a butcher knife from the kitchen and asked her husband what was the best way to kill herself, Armstrong said.
The victim told his wife he had a "better knife" and pulled out his military knife, Armstrong said. The defendant started poking her chest and became upset with her husband's indifference toward her actions, Armstrong said.
According to Armstrong, the victim said, "Let me help you with that." A "weird, bizarre feeling" came over the defendant as she fought with him over the weapon, Armstrong said.
Jennifer Trayers took the knife away from the victim "and just started stabbing him," according to Armstrong.
The defendant had no intention of killing her husband and has little memory of the two days that followed, Armstrong said.
Trayers faces 26 years to life in prison if convicted.