The Final Straw

Brian Eftenoff's going to prison. He shouldn't have called his dead wife a coke whore.

• After acknowledging that he sought to use his wife's employee discount at Neiman Marcus after her death: "It's like if someone retires." (Or when someone permanently retires you, a courthouse wag noted wryly.)

• On his own use of cocaine with Judi and friends: "There's a time and a place for everything, I imagine . . . as long as you're responsible."

A few days before he had to decide whether to take the stand, Eftenoff called New Times from Madison Street Jail. The trial was going swimmingly, he said, insisting that he felt confident about the outcome.

Prosecutor Kurt Altman tore holes in Eftenoff's story.
Todd Lillard
Prosecutor Kurt Altman tore holes in Eftenoff's story.
The jury didn't buy Brian Eftenoff's version of Judi's death.
Craig Macnaughton/pool/Ahwatukee Foothills News
The jury didn't buy Brian Eftenoff's version of Judi's death.


Read more New Times coverage of the Eftenoff Trial

"If I'm thoroughly convinced I don't have to get up there, I won't," he said, "but I might have to explain the [transportation of] drugs. I don't mean to sound cocky, but there's no way I get convicted of the murder. When this is over, I'm going after them with a vengeance. I know I was on the wrong path, but I didn't kill my wife."

So, Eftenoff was asked, how do you think the cocaine got in the package sent to the Hardings in North Dakota?

"Look at how many people had access to that box before it got mailed off," he replied. "I mean, Judi's friends, the neighbors, our maids, even Joe Petrosino had access to it for days. I know it wasn't me. You'd have to be an idiot to send dope to the people who already think you killed their daughter."

"You think Petrosino planted the dope?"

"Well, I'm not accusing him," Eftenoff retreated. "But you get my point, right?"

An hour or so after the conviction, Detective Petrosino stood on the courthouse steps in the fading daylight and made an astute observation.

"This is a case, that if the defendant wasn't the person that he is, would never have gotten filed," he said, deadpan as ever. "Brian provided most of the clues. Brian is the key to the case, and Brian always has been the key to the case. If it wasn't for Brian, we wouldn't have been here."

The detective added a brief postscript. "I don't have time to manufacture evidence," Petrosino said. "Brian provided all the clues I needed."

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