State: Leuthold Searched For Ways To Murder His Wife
There's no smoking gun, but prosecutors are pointing to a series of Internet searches performed on Nathan Leuthold's computer as being the next best thing.
Shortly after Denise Leuthold's Feb. 14, 2013 murder, investigators pegged her husband, Nathan Leuthold, as the prime suspect. There was evidence that he was having an affair with Aina Dobilaite, a Lithuanian national he sponsored so she could attend college in the United States. His feelings for Dobilaite, prosecutors allege, drove Leuthold to shoot his wife in the back of the head at their North Peoria home. Leuthold maintains his wife’s murder was the work of a burglar who panicked.
While investigators can't put the gun that fired the fatal bullet in Leuthold's hand, so to speak, the Internet search history on his computer shows there was a concerted effort to find a way to commit murder. Search topics included "air bubbles in the body," "hitting someone over the head to knock them out," "suicide insulin," and "how to hide the sound of a gunshot." Some of the searches also made specific references to a .40 caliber Glock, a weapon Leuthold owned and the weapon police believe was used to murder Denise Leuthold.
There was also a search for short-term, furnished apartments in Pensacola, Florida, the city Leuthold frequently visited while Dobilaite was attending school there. Investigators found leases in the computer's recycle bin as well.
Defense Attorney Hugh Toner argued that the laptop from which the information was pulled was not password protected, a stance that was confirmed by witness William Lynn, a Bloomington Police Department cyber crimes investigator who analyzed the computer in question. Toner implied that, since the computer wasn't locked, anyone could have made those searches.
Peoria Police Department detective Jim Feehan analyzed some of the computer's contents as well, most notably thousands of emails stored in the hard drive. One email was one sent in January, in which Leuthold seemed to profess his love to Dobilaite.
“There is nothing more important than the relationship,” Leuthold wrote.
Feehan also took the jury through the timeline of events that occurred on Feb. 14, 2013 via recovered cell phone data. Texts between Nathan and Denise Leuthold were very matter-of-fact for the most part, with him asking his wife when their children needed to picked up from school. Only one text between the two broke the business-like mold, when Nathan Leuthold thanked his wife for a Valentine’s Day card.
By contrast, Leuthold’s messages to Dobilaite seemed more relaxed, even flirtatious. One text from Dobilaite, for example, stated she couldn’t get a hold of her doctor. Leuthold replied that he would be her doctor. Another communique seemed to be even more overtly sexual:
Aina: Back from the gym.
Aina: A little :)
The phone data took a somewhat darker turn when Leuthold returned home a little after 3:00 p.m. that day. Leuthold called 911 twice at 3:11 p.m., when he says he first noticed someone may have broken into the house. He then called his dad. Around 3:30 p.m., he tried to call Dobilaite. When the call didn’t go through, he sent her a text saying he couldn’t talk because police were investigating a possible break-in. That’s when she responded, “Interesting :)”.
It wasn’t until 3:32 p.m., twenty minutes after he claims he found out something was wrong at the house, that Leuthold tried to call his wife. After that mark, he tried a few times to get in touch with her. But, of course, all of his calls went unanswered. Investigators believe by the time he made his first phone call to Denise Leuthold, she had been dead for about three hours.
The prosecution has still not wrapped up its case, even after five days of testimony. The trial will resume Monday.