The wife of a man who is on trial for attempting to murder her testified in a Gainesville courtroom on Wednesday.
Susan O’Brien Reuschel, who says her husband Michael Reuschel stabbed her multiple times in the abdomen and neck and slashed her on the wrist before stabbing himself, testified before the court and was cross-examined by Reuschel’s defense attorney Ann Finnell. Michael called 911 and said they had both been stabbed in a home invasion.
Finnell took O’Brien Reuschel through video stills from nine cameras that the two had at their home, four of which were inside the house. O’Brien Reuschel was asked to verify details from her testimony as they appeared in the stills, and Finnell also examined text messages between the two from the night of Feb. 2, 2018, exchanged after they had an argument over dinner. While jury members were displayed the stills from the footage on a projector, they were informed they would get an opportunity to see the full video later in the trial.
O’Brien Reuschel and Finnell were at odds for most of the cross-examination. Finnell frequently explained to Judge William Davis that O’Brien Reuschel was giving long-winded responses to questions and avoiding answering them properly, while O’Brien Reuschel believed Finnell was finding humor in her situation and asking her questions she deemed too specific to remember. The tension hit its height when Finnell insinuated that one of O’Brien Reuschel’s stab wounds — which an Alachua County Sheriff’s Office detective testified earlier in the trial ran three and a half inches into her body — wasn’t a deep wound.
“I can’t answer these questions,” O’Brien Reuschel told her. “It’s sad. It’s almost harassment.”
At one point, Finnell noted there was a discrepancy related to the video footage because O’Brien Reuschel initially said her husband had altered the footage, then backtracked and said that while she did not believe the video was wrong, she was certain of the details in her testimony.
“Somebody has to be wrong, Mrs. Reuschel,” Finnell told her.
“It’s not me,” she replied.
Another of Reuschel’s defense attorneys, Patrick McGuiness, said on the trial’s opening day that O’Brien Reuschel had attacked her husband and that she had come up with the home invasion scenario with him to avoid another arrest after she was arrested for domestic battery in 2017.
During Wednesday’s proceedings, Finnell’s line of questioning reflected this stance.
Finnell asked O’Brien Reuschel whether she knew of any other wounds Michael suffered besides a stab wound she said he had inflicted on himself in the bicep. Once she told her it was the only one she knew of, Finnell showed the court pictures of multiple other wounds Michael had suffered, including an aberration on his forehead and multiple lacerations on his torso. After each photograph, Finnell asked O’Brien Reuschel if she was the one who had inflicted them.
O’Brien Reuschel denied she had ever injured her husband.
The day ended with the prosecuting attorneys asking another witness from the Alachua County Sherriff’s Office a short line of questioning regarding his placement of Reuschel’s phone into evidence.
The prosecution will continue to bring witnesses to the stand to testify on Thursday and Friday, and Reuschel’s defense team said it intends to bring in “experts from out of town” to the trial as soon as Monday.