Jury convicts Ocean Beach man of murder
An Ocean Beach man was convicted today of murdering his estranged wife to avoid paying child support.
Jurors, in their fourth day of deliberations, found 69-year-old Henry Lisowski guilty of first-degree murder, and found true a special circumstance allegation of murder for financial gain in the death of 50-year-old Rosa Lisowski. Her body has never been found.
He will be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on April 2.
After Judge John Einhorn read the guilty verdicts, the defendant thanked and shook the hand of his attorney, Richard Gates.
Lisowski spoke when the judge asked him if he was willing to have his sentencing hearing on April 2.
“Your honor, I did not commit the crime ... but you can sentence me to anything you wish now,” Lisowski told the judge.
Outside court, one juror, identified as Martha, said the defendant’s story that his wife fell down some steps and hit her head didn’t add up.
“At the end, we were all very sure of our decision — completely sure,” the juror said.
Veronica Ramos, who is married to Rosa Lisowski’s nephew and takes cares of the couple’s two young sons, cried as she spoke to reporters.
“For me, knowing Henry, Rosa, and the boys and their situation, it was obvious to me he was guilty,” Ramos said. “She knew it could happen. She told me it could, and when it happened, I knew it was Henry.”
The couple’s boys now live with Ramos and her family in Bakersfield. Rosa Lisowski had two other children from a previous relationship.
Defense attorney Richard Gates maintained the evidence showed the victim hit her head when she fell down some steps at the defendant’s home and eventually died.
Deputy District Attorney Nicole Cooper told jurors that the defendant followed through on his threats to kill his wife if she didn’t drop her child support case.
Cooper said the defendant had been threatening his estranged wife since November 2006.
Lisowski had told the victim, “If you don’t drop the child support case, I’ll kill you. The children will be without a mother and I’ll be in jail,” according to Cooper.
The victim disappeared on March 24, 2008, after walking her 6-year-old son to school from her apartment in the Midway-Loma Portal District.
The day she vanished, Lisowski was looking forward to the resolution of the child support case and anticipating a $30,000 disability settlement from a grocery store, Cooper said.
When she didn’t return from dropping off her son, friends and family immediately suspected the defendant, Cooper said.
In February 2008, Lisowski was ordered to pay the victim $1,029 a month and started to search the Internet for poison to kill his wife, Cooper said.
The story was corroborated by the couple’s son “Junior,” who said his father gave him some green powder and told him to put it in his mother’s water, the prosecutor said. The child said he poured the powder into the carpet because he thought it was something bad, Cooper said.
Gates urged the jury to disregard the “incredible” claim that a father would give his then-5-year-old son poison that the child could have ended up ingesting. He said “Junior” most likely picked up from friends and family the notion that his father killed his mother.
Cooper said Lisowski had been facing a hearing on April 2, 2008, at which he was going to have to disprove contentions that he had underreported his assets by $1.3 million, followed by a child support hearing 27 days later.
After she went missing, police looked everywhere for the victim, eventually finding her blood on a kitchen counter in the defendant’s home and in the trunk of his vehicle, Cooper said, adding that her blood also was found on the inside of the passenger side door of Lisowski’s vehicle.
The prosecutor said Lisowski went to Mexico after his wife disappeared, resurfacing in September 2008 with a letter sent to friends and family giving his version of his wife’s death.
In the letter, Lisowski said his wife was knocked unconscious by the fall and he revived her with water and put her in the car to go to the hospital. On the way there, the victim went into seizures and died, the defendant said.
Cooper told the jury that the victim’s injuries were consistent not with a fall, but, rather, a violent attack with a hammer or having her head slammed into something.