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Published: Wednesday, 6/17/2009

Jury hears quiz of suspect

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

After four days of testimony from 23 witnesses, a Lucas County Common Pleas Court jury heard Thomas Zich's memories of the days surrounding his wife's 1991 disappearance and murder.

An audio recording of a 2007 interview with Mr. Zich was played for jurors yesterday on the final day of testimony. Mr. Zich, 62, of Swanton, is charged with the murder of his wife, Mary Jane, and faces life in prison if convicted.

During the 59-minute interview, recorded by cold-case investigators without his knowledge, Mr. Zich said his wife had been a heavy user of drugs, and she left one night after she had been on the phone. He told investigators he didn't know she had a boyfriend but had heard rumors about it after her death.

The interview was played as part of the testimony of Toledo police Sgt. Steve Forrester, who said several of Mr. Zich's statements conflicted with information gathered during the investigation.

Mrs. Zich, who died as a result of ligature strangulation, was found in the trunk of her car Dec. 18, 1991, in East Toledo. The discovery of her body was about three weeks after she was last seen alive and almost two weeks after Mr. Zich reported her missing.

Luanna Urbanski was a waitress in 1991 and told the jury that for several months in the fall, she became friendly with Mr. Zich, who was a customer.

She testified yesterday that Mr. Zich told her his wife was having an affair and that their marriage was over. She testified that she had several conversations with him in the weeks before and after Mrs. Zich disappeared, and he was concerned about dividing his assets, especially rental properties, with his wife.

Ms. Urbanski called police after Mrs. Zich's body was found because she was concerned about conflicting comments Mr. Zich made about the day his wife was last seen.

Although expected to testify during the trial, Mrs. Zich's daughter, Desiree Andaverde, now 20, did not take the stand. Prior to the trial, defense attorney Alan Konop had argued that her testimony would be unreliable because of her age at the time of the incident.

Judge Gene Zmuda, who is presiding over the trial, ruled that Ms. Andaverde could testify, but prosecutors concluded their case without calling Ms. Andaverde to the stand.

Mr. Konop presented no witnesses.



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