Robert Perez made the same assertion about his wife, Dennielle Leichtle, after her brutal death in August 2014.
However, a jury has now found Perez guilty of murder in that case.
Why? An arrest affidavit on view below details a slew of physical evidence that undermined the suicide claim, including the angle of the fatal shotgun blast, which investigators said Leichtle couldn't possibly have inflicted on herself.
Leichtle's Facebook page, which also identifies her as Dennielle Nelly Perez and lists her most recent job as a cashier at Chubby's, remains online at this writing, as do scads of photos showing her and Perez in loving poses.
Here's an example:
The August 20, 2014, scene described in the police report couldn't be more different.
Perez called 911 that afternoon, saying he'd arrived home and found Leichtle dead from a shotgun wound in the basement of their home, on the 19400 block of East 45th Avenue. She was pronounced dead at 2:20 p.m.
Shortly thereafter, Perez agreed to speak with detectives. But after a reference to a phone message Perez said he received four days earlier, much of the next two paragraphs from the affidavit's narrative has been redacted. A source with the Denver District Attorney's Office says it dealt with Perez's assertions that Leichtle had been unfaithful — something that wasn't proven in court.
Meanwhile, Perez said that he'd changed out of clothing he'd worn to work that day (tennis shoes, blue denim pants and a T-shirt with a "Monte Carlo SS" logo) and into another outfit (two white T-shirts worn in layers and gray-green boxer shorts) before he discovered Leichtle's body.
He had blood on the top T-shirt from his second set of clothes, as well his hands and arms. But investigators were just as interested in ensemble number one, which they arranged to have tested for gunshot residue. And sure enough, residue was found on the shirt with the Monte Carlo SS logo, as well as Perez's face and both of his hands — and none was found on Leichtle's body.
And then there was the matter of the fatal shot's angle. An excerpt from the report reads: "Investigators were unable to replicate a position where a person of Dennielle Perez's size could successfully fire the weapon herself and cause the injuries she suffered given their location and trajectory of the projectile through her body."
One more oddity: Police found an August 18 message from Perez to Leichtle in which he alluded to suicidal behavior on his part. Excerpts from the message include "Jamiee was looking at me like I was the one that fucking killed you" and "I had the gauge in my mouth when my son came in the room screaming not to do it."
"Gauge" is common slang for a shotgun, but Perez insisted he hadn't touched such a weapon in at least five years. When shown the message, though, he said he'd put another firearm in his mouth, not the shotgun. He also continued to deny that he'd killed his wife.
Nonetheless, Perez was arrested approximately two weeks after Leichtle's death, and in recent days, he was found guilty of first-degree murder. He's scheduled for sentencing on June 2, when he'll face a mandatory jolt of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Our condolences to the friends, family and loved ones of Dennielle Leichtle. Look below to see Perez's booking photo, followed by the affidavit.