Defense attorneys for a Woodside man on trial for allegedly murdering his wife for insurance money played an emotional recording of the 911 call made on the day of her death. Pooroushash “Peter” Parineh, 67, held his head down and covered his eyes when the recording was played in San Mateo County Superior Court, where he has been charged with fatally shooting his wife Parima Parineh on April 13, 2010. According to Parineh’s testimony, he arrived home at their Woodside mansion and discovered his wife’s bloody body in bed in the master bedroom. A photograph of the scene projected later in the courtroom showed Parima’s body slumped on her left side, pillow and sheets covered in blood, with a silver semi-automatic handgun under her right hand.
The 911 recording started with a male dispatcher trying to calm a despondent Peter Parineh, who was sobbing and scarcely able to provide basic information about the situation. “Is your wife alive?” The dispatcher asked. “Is she breathing?” “No, she’s gone, she’s gone. She is not breathing,” Parineh said, his voice trailing off into several seconds of screaming and crying. “What is your name? Sir, I know it’s difficult, but what is your name?” “Peter, Peter,” Parineh said, while continuing to sob. “Where is the gun, sir?” “Right next to her,” he said. The recording lasted three to four minutes as an ambulance and police were dispatched to the scene. Parima Parineh, who died an accomplished painter at age 56, suffered two gunshot wounds in the head, wounds that prosecutors have argued could not have been self-inflicted. Each was likely fatal or incapacitating, according to deputy district attorney Jeff Finigan.
Parineh was facing financial ruin when his wife died, according to attorneys and witnesses from both the defense and the prosecution. With no cash and no possibility of securing new loans to salvage his investments, five of Parineh’s properties were in foreclosure, including the family home in Woodside. The family was within days of being evicted, according to the testimony of Parineh’s children and the defendant himself. Parima Parineh had more than $30 million worth of life insurance policies in her name, which provided a motive for Parineh to murder her and stage the scene as if she committed suicide, according to prosecutors.
Defense attorney Dek Ketchum has argued that Parima Parineh was depressed in the months leading up to her death, and that she shot herself to save her family from financial ruin. A gunshot wound that entered from the right of the victim’s mouth and exited out the left side of her head might not have been fatal, Ketchum said, and could have left her able to re-aim and fire a second shot. Defense evidence is expected to continue on Wednesday. Parineh could face the death penalty or life in prison if convicted.
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