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Former LAPD Stephanie Lazarus gets 27 to life for killing ex's wife

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Convicted in March of killing her ex-boyfriend's wife nearly 30 years ago, former LAPD detective Stephanie Lazarus was sentenced Friday to 27 years to life in prison, with the possibility of parole.

Lazarus, 52, was found to have shot Sherri Rae Rasmussen three times in the chest during a fit of jealous rage on Feb. 24, 1986.

Rasmussen, then a 29-year-old hospital worker, was newly married to John Ruetten, a man Lazarus had casually dated for a number of years.

DNA from a bite mark on Rasmussen's arm was considered the key piece of evidence in the case. Lazarus's attorney argued that it was not reliable evidence, and that the DNA was corrupted.

KPCC's Erika Aguilar was at the criminal courts building for the sentencing where Lazarus' brother Steve spoke out about the verdict.

"There are no words to describe the tragedy that we are here for today...there was never a presumption of innocence," he said. "The media got to listen to DNA and guilt for two and a half years before Stephanie had her trial." 

Rasmussen's widower, John Ruetten, thanked her family for their support.

"Contemplating their profound grief and the fact that Sherri's death occurred because she met and married me, brings me to my knees," he said.

Rasmussen's family has filed a wrongful death suit against the City and the LAPD. And Stephanie Lazarus's lawyer said he is appealing her conviction.


With contributions from KPCC Wire Services

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