A Woodside man who is on trial for allegedly murdering his wife to cash in on $30 million worth of insurance money admitted he faced financial ruin in the days before her death.
Pooroushash "Peter" Parineh, 67, took the witness stand today in his own defense in San Mateo County Superior Court.
Wearing a dark gray suit and blue tie, Parineh said his real estate holdings before 2007 were worth an estimated $150 million, but by early 2010, they had plummeted in value and were worth only a few million dollars.
Five properties -- including the family home in an exclusive neighborhood in Woodside -- were in foreclosure, Parineh said.
"I never thought that the real estate market was going to crash," he said.
Parineh had borrowed more than $650,000 in short-term emergency loans from friends, which he had no immediate way to pay back, he said. A bank that had underwritten more than $30 million worth of life insurance policies in his wife Parima's name was threatening to recall the cash and
nullify them at any moment, Parineh said.
"No other bank was going to refinance those loans, right?" Deputy District Attorney Jeff Finigan asked.
"No," Parineh said. "I was waiting for everything to work out."
Finigan asked Parineh if he had any other potential source of income in April 2010 besides getting his wife's insurance money or face bankruptcy at age 65.
"No," he said.
Parineh said his wife shot herself in the head April 13, 2010. The defendant said he returned home from the gym late in the afternoon and discovered her body in the master bedroom of their Woodside mansion.
There were two bullet wounds in her head.
"I saw her blood," Parineh said, fighting back tears. "I touched her forehead."
Prosecutors argue that neither gunshot could have been self-inflicted, that both would have been fatal and that Parineh made the death look like suicide to benefit from the victim's insurance policies.
Defense Attorney Dek Ketchum argued that Parima suffered from depression in the months leading up to her death, and that she killed herself to save her family.
"Do you feel you had a role in your wife's suicide?" Kechum asked.
"What do you think? Yes," Parineh said.
Parineh could face the death penalty or life in prison if convicted.
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