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Wife of Olympic medalist pleads not guilty to husband's slaying

February 16, 2010 |  1:58 pm

The wife of an Olympic medalist found shot to death last year pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder charges on Tuesday.

Lanow.jane The shooting death of former Olympic shot-putter Dave Laut stunned the community. Authorities first though it was a robbery. But last week, detectives arrested his wife on suspicion of gunning him down at their Oxnard home.

Jane Laut, 52, was taken into custody Saturday and remains in Ventura County jail on a $3-million bond, said her attorney, Ron Bamieh. He claimed she had been a longtime victim of domestic abuse.

Lanow.dave Laut, 52, was killed by multiple gunshots outside his home around midnight on Aug. 27. Jane Laut initially told police that they had heard noises in the backyard and that her husband was slain when he went to investigate.

In a statement issued after her arrest, Laut’s attorney acknowledged that his client was the shooter. But she killed her husband in self-defense during a violent argument in which an intoxicated Laut threatened to shoot her, their 10-year-old son and their two dogs, Bamieh said.

Jane Laut was able to wrestle the gun away from an intoxicated Dave Laut when the fight moved to their back patio and he lost his balance, Bamieh said. One shot was fired during the struggle, the attorney said, and as she was getting back up she  “emptied the gun.”

Friends and former competitors praised Dave Laut as a man of honor and integrity, and a world-class athlete who returned to his humble Oxnard roots to teach. Jane Laut took care of their modest home in Oxnard, where they lived for nearly two decades.

-- Catherine Saillant and Shelby Grad

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