Home News How this Marine wife was wrongfully convicted of killing her husband

How this Marine wife was wrongfully convicted of killing her husband


Cindy Sommer

From 1989 to 2015, there were 15 exonerations in San Diego County. One of them was Marine wife Cindy Sommer– who was wrongfully convicted of her husband’s death.

On Feb. 18, 2002, Todd Sommer collapsed at the couple’s home at the Miramar Marine Corps Air Station. He was only 23 years old at the time of his death.

It was believed at first that Cindy murdered Sgt. Sommer, by poisoning him with arsenic. The motive?  She allegedly wanted to cash in on his $250,000 life insurance policy.

Prosecutors, at the time, had a very strong case and the jury believed the evidence they presented. Crime lab tests showed high levels of arsenic in Todd’s liver.

Cindy’s attorney argued that,  “There was not one cent of evidence that she had arsenic in her house, that she had ever purchased arsenic… They made all sorts of guesses and speculations as to how she had gotten him to eat it.”

The state also told the jury that soon after Todd’s death, Cindy got breast implants, partied at bars and strip clubs, and started sleeping with her late husband’s fellow Marines.

The conduct, they said, was not typical of a grieving wife. Cindy later told NBC that she was just really missing her husband and wanted to feel close to someone.

At the age of 34, Cindy –a mother of four and Marine widow — was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.

However, the state determined in 2008 that there was never any crime.  Cindy had already been behind bars a total of 2 1/2 years, when she received the news that she would be going home.

New tests showed that there were mistakes made at the crime lab and tissue samples had reportedly been contaminated.  Also, doctors had originally determined that Todd died of natural causes. When the other samples came back clean, the murder charges were dismissed.

Sommer was suddenly a free woman. “I’m overwhelmed with emotion,” Sommer said at the time of her release. “I can’t describe being in jail one day, one minute actually, and being out the next.”

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Sommer has reunited with her kids,  is remarried and living in Michigan. She has no  interest in speaking to the media and wants to stay out of the limelight, her lawyer said.

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