Peter Zielinski takes the stand in his re-trial for the alleged murder of his wife.

UPDATE: Peter Zielinski was found guilty of his wife murder for a second time Thursday, Aug. 29, past press time.The jury unanimously rejected his extreme emotional disturbance (EED) defense. Judge Susan Tripp scheduled sentencing for Thursday. Sept. 5 at 3 p.m.

Former Keizer resident Peter Zielinski returned to the Marion County Courthouse Monday, Aug. 19, to once again be tried for allegedly murdering his wife, Lisa, on Jan. 12, 2011.  

Zielinski was previously tried for murder in 2013 during which the presiding Judge Dale Penn, siding with the state’s attorneys, excluded psychological testimony relating to the defendant’s mental health. 

Due to this exclusion, Zielinski, who originally pled not guilty, changed his plea to guilty with the condition that he could appeal the judge’s decision. Following Measure 11 guidelines, the defendant received a sentence of 25 years to life with the possibility of parole after 25 years.

Prior to Zielinski’s first trial he was examined by state’s psychologist Alexander Duncan, who specializes in forensic psychology. Duncan diagnosed Zielinski with an anxiety disorder, not otherwise specified, alcohol abuse along with obsessive-compulsive personality traits.

Duncan stated that “based on the totality of the data, it was his professional opinion that, at the time of the alleged murder of his wife Lisa on January 11, 2011, defendant was experiencing heightened stress, increased despair and hopeless, catastrophic and rigid thinking.” 

Zielinski was also examined by defense psychologist Richard Hulteng. Both Duncan and Hulteng “endorsed anxiety symptoms associated with initial combat related trauma, including recurring nightmares, potential avoidance symptoms and a heightened startle response. Although he does not appear to have full blown PTSD, the defendant's ongoing anxiety symptoms during the days leading up to the alleged murder of his wife likely placed him at heightened risk for developing extreme distress.”

Based on this information, Appellate Court Judge P.J. Armstrong determined that “the trial court erred in excluding expert testimony that defendant had been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.”

Zielinski’s case was reversed and sent back to Marion County Circuit Court. whether Zielinski is guilty, as Judge Armstrong stated “the facts, which are largely procedural, are undisputed,” but how he will be charged and how long he will remain in jail. Using this expert testimony Zielinski can now use extreme emotional disturbance (EED), as a defense which, if successful, could reduce his crime from murder to first-degree manslaughter which has a minimum sentence of 10 years.

Zielinski’s second trial began much like the first with the state’s presentation of police reports, crime scene photos, evidence and officer’s testimonies. 

The state rested their case Monday, Aug. 26 after carefully laying the groundwork for a premeditated murder conviction through letters, documents and testimony from friends, family and co-workers, that Zielinski had previously threatened to kill his wife, was extremely jealous, had a violent temper, was verbally abusive and controlling. They painted a picture of a possessive man who was ready to explode.

The defense began presenting their case Monday, Aug. 26. Zielinski’s counsel started laying the foundation for an EED defense by calling several Marine combat veterans who had served with the defendant during Desert Storm. The defense was expected to bring psychological experts in to testify after which they expect to rest their case. 

What’s at stake now is not whether Zielinski is guilty, as Judge Armstrong stated “the facts, which are largely procedural, are undisputed,” but how he will be charged and how long he will remain in jail. Using this expert testimony Zielinski can now use extreme emotional disturbance (EED), as a defense which, if successful, could reduce his crime from murder to first-degree manslaughter which has a minimum sentence of 10 years.

Zielinski’s second trial began much like the first with the state’s presentation of police reports, crime scene photos, evidence and officer’s testimonies. 

The state rested their case Monday, Aug. 26 after carefully laying the groundwork for a premeditated murder conviction through letters, documents and testimony from friends, family and co-workers, that Zielinski had previously threatened to kill his wife, was extremely jealous, had a violent temper, was verbally abusive and controlling. They painted a picture of a possessive man who was ready to explode.

The defense began presenting their case Monday, Aug. 26. Zielinski’s counsel started laying the foundation for an EED defense by calling several Marine combat veterans who had served with the defendant during Desert Storm. The defense was expected to bring psychological experts in to testify after which they expect to rest their case.