Iraq war veteran sentenced to life in prison for killing wife

August 9, 2013

An Iraq War veteran who pleaded guilty to ambushing and killing his wife, a Milwaukee-area police officer, was sentenced Friday to life in prison with no chance for parole for 35 years.

Benjamin G. Sebena, 30, was convicted in June of first-degree intentional homicide in last year's death of Jennifer Sebena. The charge carries a mandatory life sentence, but Judge David Borowski had the option of allowing for the possibility for parole after at least 20 years. Wisconsin does not have the death penalty.

Jennifer Sebena, a 30-year-old Wauwatosa police officer was conducting a pre-dawn patrol alone on Christmas Eve when her husband gunned her down, both with his own gun and with her own service weapon. Benjamin Sebena told investigators he was a jealous husband and said he shot her in the face three or four times to make sure she wouldn't suffer.

He initially pleaded insanity but changed his mind in June after two doctors concluded that even though he has post-traumatic stress disorder and other significant mental health issues, those issues weren't severe enough to justify the plea.

In a sentencing memorandum filed earlier this week, the defense asked the court to allow Sebena to be eligible for parole at some point, citing his military career and mental-health issues. The filing detailed the psychological and physical effects of Sebena's combat experience, including his claim to have killed 68 people during his military service.

Sebena also said he killed his wife so she'd go to heaven because he worried she'd follow through on a threat to kill herself if he committed suicide first, the memo said.

Sebena served two tours in Iraq with the U.S. Marine Corps. He was honorably discharged in 2005 after suffering severe arm and leg injuries in a mortar attack.

Jennifer Sebena told a colleague a few weeks before her death that her husband had acted violently toward her and put a gun to her head, prosecutors said. Detectives who searched the couple's home found a gun with ammunition matching the bullet casings found at the scene. They also found Jennifer Sebena's service weapon stashed in the attic.

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