- Associated Press - Monday, February 29, 2016

DECORAH, Iowa (AP) - Attorneys for a former Boone man accused of killing his wife opened their defense Monday with testimony from his relatives, who described his wife as physically unhealthy and hooked on drugs and alcohol.

Lawyers for Alexander Fazzino, who is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Emily Fazzino, called Alexander Fazzino’s mother, sister, brother and an aunt to testify Monday in a Winneshiek County court, the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier (https://bit.ly/1RBKW5H ) reported.

Alexander Fazzino has pleaded not guilty in her January 2012 death, contending his wife accidentally drowned in a bathtub, possibly induced by withdrawal from prescription drugs. Prosecutors argue she was strangled and possibly drowned.

Joanne Fazzino, his mother, testified that Emily Fazzino appeared to have health problems, saying her hands often trembled and her speech was slurred.

Marianne Fazzino, his aunt, and Marguerite Stout, his sister, testified that they hoped to perform an “intervention” for Emily Fazzino, saying they believed she was abusing prescription drugs.

The women made a trip from Lee’s Summit, Missouri, to Boone after the couple got into a domestic dispute in January 2012, they testified. They decided the couple’s children and Alexander Fazzino should return to Missouri with them.

“We thought it might be good to get away for a few says. We thought it would be good for him to come home with us,” Joanne Fazzino said. “I was concerned for the children.”

But Emily Fazzino had filed for a divorce and an Iowa judge ordered Alexander Fazzino to return to Boone with the children.

Frank Fazzino, Alexander Fazzino’s brother, testified he saw Emily Fazzino under the influence of alcohol “very often.”

“Every time I saw my sister-in-law she had a drink in her hand,” he added.

Frank Fazzino said he happened to call his brother on the night of the death, but instead heard from a Boone police officer on the phone.

“The first thing I said was, ‘Did she overdose?’” he testified.

Last week, the prosecution called Ammie Dighton, Emily Fazzino’s sister, to the witness stand where she denied claims that her sister was frequently, if ever, under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Emily Fazzino’s former housekeeper, Elodie McWilson, was asked about allegations that she had illegally sold prescription pain killers to Emily Fazzino. But she pleaded the Fifth multiple times, invoking her right against self-incrimination.

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Information from: Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, https://www.wcfcourier.com

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