A Colorado Springs man accused of fatally shooting his wife and then trying to pass off her death as a suicide was convicted Tuesday of second-degree murder, the highest charge he had faced.
After a weeklong trial, an El Paso County jury deliberated for just 1+ hours before returning guilty verdicts on all counts against Louis Edward Mamo, 26, in the October 2012 shooting of his then-wife, Karen Mamo.
Karen Mamo, who had planned to leave her husband, was found slain in their bed, with a pistol nearby.
Although Louis Mamo claimed to have discovered her body, Colorado Springs police quickly determined his story didn't add up.
For starters, Karen Mamo was right-handed, but died of a gunshot wound in the left side of her head, and crime scene technicians found no evidence of gunpowder or muzzle-flash injuries commonly seen in point-blank shootings.
Further unraveling the plot, police determined that within hours of his wife's death, Louis Mamo went to a McDonald's and used a laptop computer to research penalties for murder in Colorado.
'I think the evidence was strong enough that the jury didn't need to think long, ' said prosecutor Brian Cecil. 'Justice has been done. '
Mamo also was convicted of two counts of child abuse - accused of leaving the couple's sons, ages 3 and 6, locked in their room while he wandered Colorado Springs in a panic after his wife's slaying, trying to devise a story for the police.
The children are believed to have been asleep in the couple's North Chestnut Street apartment at the time of the 11:30 p.m. killing, Cecil said.
The verdict marked a speedy rejection of the defense's claims at trial that Mamo had fired accidentally while trying to wrest the loaded gun from his wife's hands as the two quarreled over the future of their marriage.
Mamo described the quarrel from the stand Tuesday, claiming he invented the story about the suicide out of fear he would be charged in her death.
His lead attorney, public defender Adam Steigerwald, emphasized the couple's marital trouble and framed Karen Mamo's death as a tragic but 'foreseeable ' accident in a turbulent household where two pistols were within easy reach.
'Please don't compound this tragedy, ' he beseeched the eight-woman, four-man jury during closing arguments.
Friends of Karen Mamo, a Fort Carson soldier who worked with the 43rd Sustainment Brigade, said her life was cut short just as she was trying for a new start, away from the turmoil of her faltering marriage.
'It was one of those things where she knew it was time to leave, ' said Spc. Tyehe Holmes, a former colleague.
Former Fort Carson soldier Lyniece Brooks complained that defense attorneys tried to make Karen Mamo look like a bad mother in their bid to convince a jury that Louis Mamo was innocent.
'Far from it, ' Brooks said. 'She was with the kids all the time. '
'To sum it all up, ' Holmes said after the verdict, 'the voiceless have a voice. In this case, the voice is the jury. '
Mamo faces 16 to 48 years in prison on the murder charge and is scheduled for a June 24 sentencing.
His bond was revoked, and as he was taken into custody, Mamo turned to family members seated behind him and said, 'I love you guys. '
Prosecutors didn't file first-degree murder charges because they didn't believe they had enough evidence to prove the killing was planned. The second-degree murder charge alleged that Mamo acted 'knowingly, ' rather than with premeditation.
The couple's children are in the custody of the Department of Human Services, according to Cecil.
Holmes and Brooks said the children are being cared for in the home of one of Karen Mamo's Fort Carson colleagues.