Jury finds Leuthold guilty of murder

Jul 21, 2014

It took the jury about 90 minutes to convict Nathan Leuthold for the murder of his wife Denise. Peoria Public Radio’s Tanya Koonce reports the missionary was found guilty of first degree murder.

Prosecutors allege the 39-year-old Leuthold shot his wife execution-style on Valentine’s Day to continue an affair with their 20-year-old Lithuanian sponsor student.

Leuthold’s attorney, Hugh Toner, says he would not change anything about his defense. But he says the prosecution’s theory is flawed. “It makes absolutely no sense to me that you would stage a burglary and you would say ‘okay, I don’t want to do anything that‘s going to harm my in-laws furniture,’ you know their drawers, and yet in their home I’m willing to kill their daughter.”

Toner says the assertion that Leuthold didn’t show any outward emotion about the death of his wife is a reach because most people have no idea how they would process such circumstances.

Peoria County State’s Attorney Jerry Brady says his Assistant Jodi Hoos did the research that won the case including the recovery of deleted emails and text messages. “This was a circumstantial evidence case. But for the witness on Mossville Road that saw the defendant walking at 12:20, you know we wouldn’t have had any direct evidence. The rest was all circumstantial. Very involved circumstantial evidence.”  

The depth of that circumstantial information could have been shocking to Denise Leuthold’s parents, Doug and Diane Newton. But Diane says they were mostly prepared. “We had no clue of all the double life he was leading. The police shared a lot of their information with us the night before he was arrested. And as soon as we hear those things, we were like, well, there were things that didn’t make sense about the burglary. But we really didn’t suspect him until we heard all of the other things.”  

This is the first trial in the 10th Judicial Circuit that reporters have been allowed to record sound and images exclusive of the jury. That could have been difficult for the three Leuthold children. The Newtons say the kids are with family out of state for the trial, but they will share the information at each child’s age appropriate level. Doug Newton says, “We’re just glad that things have come to a conclusion and that we can continue to have a part in the training and loving of our grandchildren.”

Nathan Leuthold is scheduled to be sentenced September 10, 2014.