ALBIA — Barbara Pasa was found guilty Wednesday of murder and arson in the 2018 death of her husband, Timothy Pasa.
Police charged Barbara Pasa, now 47, 13 days after Timothy Pasa, 50, was found dead and badly burned following a fire at their Centerville residence. An autopsy determined he died prior to the fire. Investigators said the fire had been set intentionally.
Jurors reached their verdict quickly, deliberating for just more than three hours Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning.
Barbara Pasa placed her head on the defense table and began sobbing after the verdict was announced. She was placed in handcuffs by Appanoose County Sheriff Gary Anderson and escorted from the courtroom.
Barbara Pasa shielded her face with a notepad as she was led out of the courtroom, but could be seen and heard saying “I love you” to her mother. Her children and family and friends of Timothy Pasa left the courtroom following the reading of the verdict.
First-degree murder carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without possibility of parole. Barbara Pasa faces up to an additional 25 years in prison for the arson conviction. A sentencing hearing is set for 11 a.m. Nov. 15.
The trial began with jury selections last week on Tuesday, and evidence began being presented on Wednesday.
Authorities were called to a fire at the Pasa household at 828 S. Park Ave. in Centerville on May 5, 2018. They found Timothy Pasa dead in the residence. An autopsy determined there was no smoke in Timothy Pasa’s lungs and that the cause of death was related to a propofol injection.
Propofol, the same drug blamed for the death of Michael Jackson, is an anesthetic used in surgeries. Barbara Pasa was a circulating nurse in the surgery department at MercyOne Centerville Medical Center at the time of Timothy Pasa’s death.
Testimony during the trial said the couple was considering a divorce. Barbara Pasa also had recently increased the life insurance she carried on Timothy Pasa.
Defense attorney James Beres argued in his closing remarks Tuesday that Timothy Pasa used propofol recreationally, and injected himself after Barbara Pasa left the home the morning of May 5, 2018.
“It’s a hard thing to say,” Beres said. “It’s a hard thing to hear, that Tim Pasa probably did it.”
Beres said that the candle started the fire, asking the jury not to hold testimony by the state fire marshal as true merely because of his title or job as a government official.
Assistant Attorney General Scott Brown told jurors experts, like Dave Linkletter from the state’s fire marshal’s office, should be trusted given their experience. He also said there was no evidence that Timothy Pasa was a drug user.
Brown also argued that it would not be possible for Timothy Pasa to have both injected a dose of propofol that was ultimately fatal, and start the fire.
“Our burden here is to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, first-degree murder and first-degree arson,” Brown said. “Not to disprove every single thing the defense throws up here. … Consider what Mr. Beres said. ... But you have to look at it in the context of the actual evidence here, not just because some lawyer says it. You got to look at what the evidence is, and what it proves.”
Evidence, Brown said, led to only one conclusion: that Barbara Pasa killed her husband Timothy Pasa and set their home on fire. He said the couple had financial issues, and through the life insurance policy meant Barbara Pasa would gain $200,000 while avoiding the cost of a divorce.