Opening statements began Tuesday in the trial of a Gainesville man accused of trying to kill his wife and himself and make it look like an intruder did it.
Michael Reuschel, 62, was charged with the attempted murder of his wife, Susan O’Brien Reuschel, on Feb. 2, 2018. He was also charged with false imprisonment, obstruction and tampering with evidence.
“We just gonna lay here until you die,” assistant state attorney David Byron said in his opening statement, alluding to what Michael Reuschel allegedly told Susan before calling 911 the next morning of Feb. 3, 2018. He told deputies they had security cameras but weren’t working because the circuit breakers had been tripped.
This is a partial transcript of the 911 called obtained by WUFT News:
Dispatcher: Okay, tell me exactly what happened.
Michael Reuschel: I don’t know. Someone was in the house. The next thing I know. I wake up in bed next to my wife. She is bleeding.
Dispatcher: You said someone was in your house?
Michael Reuschel: Yes
Dispatcher: Do you know who this person was?
Michael Reuschel: No. The lights are off and I have no idea how my wife screaming
Dispatcher: How long did the attack happen?
Michael Reuschel: Minutes. I don’t know. I was out on the bed for a while. I have no idea. I’m trying to figure that out with my cameras…I don’t know what happened.
Dispatcher: Okay and where are you bleeding from?
Michael Reuschel: My arms. My wife got her arms as well…In fact there was some knife on the bed
Among the witnesses called to the stand was Alachua County Sheriff’s Office detective Andy Adams, who responded to the couple’s home in the 8000 block of SW 45th Lane, near the equestrian center in Haile Plantation.
“There was a strong odor of vomit and feces. It’s overwhelming,” Adams said, also recalling that he heard a moaning voice as he entered the house around 4 a.m. Adams said he found Susan lying across the bed and covered with blood from head to toe.”
“You can stick your thumb into these wounds,” Adams continued. He said he immediately assessed the rest of her body in case there were other critical wounds. Eventually, EMS transported Susan to UF Shand hospital, where she underwent surgery and survived.
Byron said the pair met at a restaurant Friday night to discuss their separation, and the discussion became heated. Susan took an Uber home and went to a guest bedroom to avoid Reuschel.
Byron said Michael came into the room, jumped onto Susan and sliced her right wrist and neck with a knife. Documents also detailed he stabbed her multiple times in the abdomen, even though Susan continued to bleed and vomit profusely.
“Her hand was hanging from the wrist,” Byron said. He said Michael then put the knife into Susan’s hand — which explains why detectives found her DNA on the weapon — and cut his left hand as an “exit strategy.”
Michael Reuschel is the owner of Ocala Dental Care and, according to court documents, a former University of Florida walk-on football player and member of the Warrington College of Business advisory board.
“Susan was, in his eye, another symbol of his success… A divorce means losing that symbol. It means embarrassment and financial stress,” Byron said, describing the potential motive behind Michael’s actions.
Defense Attorney Patrick McGuiness asked the nine jurors to focus on the bigger context of this marriage, including prior incidents leading up to the incident.
McGuiness also emphasized Susan’s excessive spending habits and temper multiple times, using words like “livid,” “irate,” or “ballistic” to describe Susan’s struggle to control her temper despite multiple marital counseling sessions the couple had attended.
“She could be monstrous and often was,” McGuiness said. He also noted Susan was arrested in 2017 for domestic battery after throwing a wine bottle at Michael.
McGuiness said after Susan initiated an “unprovoked” and “savage” attack against her husband with the knife, she wanted to avoid another arrest, so she asked him to delay calling 911 and plot together a home invasion story.
The trial will continue throughout this week and into next week as more witnesses and Susan Reuschel are expected to testify.