Michael Reuschel insisted on Wednesday that the motive for helping his wife create and carry out the details of a false story about a gruesome home invasion was to keep her out of jail.
His wife, Susan O’Brien Reuschel, instead says she was stabbed multiple times by her husband, who she alleges then stabbed himself and blamed it on a home intruder.
Reuschel faces the charges of the attempted murder of his wife, false imprisonment, and obstruction and tampering with evidence. He was cross-examined on Wednesday by state prosecutors and defense attorneys regarding his recollection of the incident.
On the night of Feb. 2, 2018, the couple went out for dinner and it ended when an argument ensued.
After they returned home, Reuschel and his wife avoided contact with one another by going into separate bedrooms.
Later that night, Reuschel entered the guest bedroom, where his wife decided to sleep for the night.
Eventually, Reuschel said that his wife asked to speak with him, but when he approached her, she stabbed him. In an attempt to stop her, he put his arms up trying to grab the knife but got slashes across his arms in the process.
According to Reuschel, they scuffled for about a minute, resulting in both sustaining injuries.
Reuschel compared the burning sensation of being stabbed to sticking a coat hanger in a fire and slicing it against the skin.
He said after he took the knife from his wife and calmed her down, he tried to convince her that they needed an ambulance, but she was refusing out of fear of being arrested.
“I’m balancing Sue’s fear for arrest and her safety,” Reuschel said.
After falling in and out of consciousness in the guest room covered in blood, vomit and feces, he continued encouraging their need for medical attention. She suggested that they needed to make up a story so she wouldn’t get arrested.
“We have a security system and 10 cameras. How are we going to make up a story that’s not on film?” Reuschel asked. “That’s not going to work.”
Reuschel said his wife was crying and asking him to figure something out.
According to Reuschel, they agreed to come up with a false story that involved him turning off the cameras and claiming an intruder came in and stabbed them during that time.
Reuschel proceeded to become occupied with containing their dog, who was trying to get on the bed. In her husband’s testimony, Reuschel O’Brien then reached for the knife and slit her right wrist. Reuschel said he again got hold of the knife again and put it as far away as he could reach — at the corner of the bed.
The husband said his wife kept repeating she did not want to go to jail and had him promise he wouldn’t get her arrested.
After she calmed down, he said, she began applying pressure to her wound with her pajamas. This is around the time Reuschel said he tampered with the security cameras and shut them off.
On the early morning of Feb. 3, 2018, Reuschel called 911. He told deputies he was awakened by screams and had to fight off an intruder wearing a black ski mask who stabbed his wife multiple times and got injured in the process.
Assistant state attorney David Byron suggested Reuschel had other motives for providing false evidence.
“You needed them to believe that you were the hero of the story. Right?” Byron asked.
“Not the hero,” Reuschel replied. “But just part of the lie to get, you know, get us through this thing.”
He appeared calm when asked to acknowledge every lie he told law enforcement that night. He said he had been attacked by his wife before and had no fear of being arrested.
Closing arguments and the start of jury deliberation are scheduled for Thursday.