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Man charged in suicidal wife's death

LOUISVILLE — In a case originally ruled a suicide, a man has been charged with murder for allegedly giving his wife a loaded gun during a drunken argument.

Police and prosecutors don't argue that Katherine Simpson shot herself last Sept. 10. But they say James Simpson is responsible for her death because he gave the handgun to his ”highly intoxicated and suicidal“ wife, according to court records, The Courier-Journal reported.

Ryan Vantrease, one of James Simpson's attorneys, said the tragic death of the 35-year-old wife and mother now is wrongly being compounded by the murder charge.

”There's no crime that's been committed here,“ Van­trease said. ”When she pulled that trigger, that was a decision that she made.“

First Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Harry Rothgerber said charging James Simpson is appropriate because state law allows a murder charge when someone acts recklessly and with extreme indifference to human life.

”We intend to prove our case at trial,“ he said.

Simpson, 39, told police he came home from work Sept. 10 with flowers for his wife, hoping to make amends for an affair he had the weekend before, according to court documents.

He found his wife drinking heavily, and he joined her as they went to the garage of their home to have a cigarette and discuss their problems, according to a summary of James Simpson's interview with police.

At some point, Katherine Simpson said she wanted to kill herself.

Simpson told police he retrieved a gun from his truck in the garage and gave it to his wife.

Prosecutors allege that he then dared her, saying, ”If you wanna do it, there's the gun — go on and do it.“

Simpson told police his wife had made similar threats before and he had given her a gun on several occasions, but ”this time the gun was loaded.“

Brian Butler, another attorney for Simpson, said his client ”never dreamed in a million years that she would actually do it. He didn't intend for anything bad to happen to her.“

Katherine Simpson's blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit, and there were drugs in her system, according to court records.