Valentine's Day murder trial begins in Peoria

By WEEK Producer

July 14, 2014 Updated Jul 15, 2014 at 10:24 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- The day before what would have been their 19th anniversary, a murder trial began in Peoria for a husband accused of killing his wife.

Denise Leuthold was shot to death on Valentine's Day 2013. Police say her husband, Nathan Leuthold, is the one who pulled the trigger. Prosecutors gave their opening statements Monday afternoon.

"I would ask you to consider what they say and in the context they say it," said Hugh Toner, Nathan Leuthold's Defense Attorney. "Pay attention to how it fits into everything else you will hear."

"At 3:15 that afternoon she was found murdered in her own home," said Jodi Hoos, Peoria Assistant State's Attorney. "She was ambushed just as she stepped in the front door of that home and started to remove a coat. The murderer is her husband. "

The state's attorneys opening statement said that Leuthold killed his wife so he could live with his alleged 20-year-old Lithuanian mistress.

Prosecutors say Aina Dobilaite lived with Denise and Nathan after they met her on a missionary trip. Nathan allegedly texted her while police were at the murder scene.

The state added they have hard evidence which points to Nathan Leuthold. They say Nathan used his computer to search how to silence a Glock 40 -- the weapon used in the murder.

The defense says there is no actual proof Leuthold murdered his wife.

Prosecutors say a sweatshirt was found with gun powder residue and Leuthold's DNA. Leuthold's defense attorney says the gun powder came from a hunting trip.

Denise's mother and best friend were called to the stand during the trial along with the children's preschool teacher and a 911 operator. A recording of Leuthold's telephone call to the operator was played during the trial. In the conversation he seemed calm and concerned for his wife.

We'll be at the trial throughout the week with the latest developments.