Tacoma-area man pleads guilty to strangling wife — (The News Tribune)

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The News Tribune

By Adam Lynn, Staff writer

October 14, 2015 11:48 AM

Alleged motive: Protecting her from financial ruin

Faces 20 years in prison

Victim had “infectious laugh”

A Tacoma-area man who said he strangled his wife so that she wouldn’t have to endure the hardship of his losing his job pleaded guilty Wednesday to second-degree murder.

Michael Leroy Brown, 58, faces a prison term of up to 20 years when sentenced Nov. 2.

Valerie Brown Valerie Brown family Courtesy

Valerie Brown, his wife of more than 30 years, died Jan. 8 at their home in the 10400 block of Sheridan Avenue South when she was strangled with a belt, court records state. She was 59.

According to court records, Michael Brown called 911 to report the slaying.

He told responding Pierce County sheriff’s deputies that he killed his wife because he’d recently lost his longtime job as a janitor for MultiCare and did not want her to have to with the financial fallout, the records state.

Brown admitted again in court that he’d killed his wife, answering, “Yes, your honor,” when Superior Court Judge Jack Nevin put the question to him.

Outside court on Wednesday, Valerie Brown’s sister-in-law called Brown’s alleged reasoning “an excuse.”

“He knew that her family would never let her fall into destitution,” Trisha King Stargel said.

King Stargel described Valerie Brown as an “extraordinarily kind, compassionate, loving human being” who had an “infectious laugh.”

“She was the kind of person who truly believed that everything was going to be OK, no matter the circumstances,” King Stargel said.

Relatives believed Valerie Brown was the victim of domestic violence before the murder and that they urged her to leave her husband, but she refused, her sister-in-law said.

Michael Brown reportedly was taking anti-depressants at the time of the slaying and had been voluntarily committed for mental-health treatment in December 2014 after a suicide attempt, court records show.

Adam Lynn: 253-597-8644  adam.lynn@thenewstribune.com