An Islip Terrace laborer was convicted Friday of second-degree manslaughter in the strangulation death of his wife but acquitted of the top count of second-degree murder.
A jury announced a split verdict for Steven Strub after a three-week trial in State Supreme Court in Riverhead.
“That was a case that was ably tried," said Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini, who plans to seek a maximum sentence for Strub of 5 to 15 years in prison.
Strub's defense attorney, Christopher Cassar of Huntington, said his client maintains his innocence and plans to appeal the verdict.
"We'll never stop fighting to make this wrong a right," Cassar said.
Prosecutors said Strub, a recovering heroin and opioid addict, killed his wife, Rachelle Weeks-Strub, 40, on May 29, 2017, during an attempted rape. The couple have a 2-year-old son.
Strub, also 40, and his wife were estranged and living apart when Strub used a “ruse” to talk his way into her Centereach apartment, authorities said. Prosecutors said he strangled Weeks-Strub, dragged her into another room and raped her while she was helpless and dying. Suffolk police officers found Weeks-Strub’s body June 1.
Strub checked himself into a 60-day drug rehabilitation program the day after the killing, and then followed that up with another 30 days in rehab, prosecutors said.
Detectives said Strub, who has previous arrests for cocaine and drug paraphernalia possession and a DWI, confessed to the killing in a videotaped interview with police only hours after he completed his rehab program.
But Cassar said his client, desperate for medication and anxious to go home to his family, falsely confessed to the killing during the interrogation.
Cassar said police ignored several other potential suspects, including Weeks-Strub's boyfriend and her drug dealer. Weeks-Strub, he said, was also struggling with opioid addiction.
With Andrew Smith