An Islip Terrace man charged in his wife’s strangulation admitted killing her, according to court records, but his lawyer questioned the statement because the defendant is mentally ill and a recovering drug addict.
Steven Strub, 39, pleaded not guilty Thursday in First District Court in Central Islip to second-degree murder in the killing of his estranged wife, Rachelle Weeks-Strub, 40, said Robert Clifford, a spokesman for the Suffolk district attorney. According to the felony complaint, which said Strub’s confession was videotaped, he told police: “I strangled her with my arm.”
No motive for the killing was identified in court documents.
Strub’s attorney, Craig McElwee, of Hauppauge, said his client told him he didn’t kill Weeks-Strub, also the mother of their 18-month-old son. He said Strub has been diagnosed with bipolar, anxiety and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorders, which led to heroin addiction and opioid abuse.
Police questioned Strub for 12 hours after removing him from a rehabilitation center where he was being treated for mental illness and drug addiction, McElwee said.
“He’s required to take his medications every six hours,” McElwee said. “You don’t know the frame of mind he was in . . . what the effect of not having his medicine to first of all, discern what they’re asking him. If he’s acting under the high stress level of being questioned by police . . . that’s going to be an issue with the accuracy of anything he may have said.”
Suffolk County Police Commissioner Timothy Sini declined to comment on McElwee’s claim.
Court documents say Strub killed his wife on May 29 in her apartment.
“The defendant did intentionally strangle Rachelle Weeks-Strub about her neck and throat, causing her death,” the documents said.
Suffolk police officers found Weeks-Strub’s body June 1 inside her basement apartment in Centereach, officials said.
The couple were estranged and had been “on and off” for about a year at the time of the killing, McElwee said. Their son is in the care of Strub’s parents, he said.
Strub’s criminal record consists of cocaine and drug paraphernalia possession and a DWI, but there is no history of domestic violence between the couple, McElwee said.
“This seems completely out of character and what is the norm from him,” said McElwee. “And he obviously denies that it was he that did it.”
At Strub’s home Thursday, a man who only identified himself as a relative of the defendant declined to comment and family members of Weeks-Strub’s couldn’t immediately be reached.