Nicholas and Heidi Firkus were in financial trouble.
The prosecution and defense agreed on that statement as Nicholas Firkus’ murder trial got underway Friday for the 2010 shooting of Heidi Firkus in the couple’s St. Paul home.
Otherwise, attorneys gave opposing accounts of the couple’s lives leading up to Heidi’s death and the morning of the shooting.
They’d lost their St. Paul home to foreclosure and were supposed to be evicted the day after Heidi Firkus was killed. But was that motive for murder?
Various investigators worked on the case for a decade until another St. Paul police sergeant took over and, after receiving assistance from the FBI, Ramsey County prosecutors filed charges in 2021. After jury selection this week, both sides gave opening statements in Ramsey County District Court Friday.
Assistant Ramsey County Attorney Elizabeth Lamin told jurors during her opening that Heidi Firkus didn’t know about the foreclosure or impending eviction. But Firkus’ attorney, Robert Richman, said both Nick and Heidi Firkus knew they’d lost their house, were looking for an apartment and making future plans.
“Nick was desperate, ashamed and had run out of time and reality was going to come crashing down on him,” Lamin said.
Nicholas Firkus told police in 2010 that an intruder came into their home. Firkus said he and the unknown man struggled with Firkus’ shotgun and his wife was shot. Nicholas Firkus reported he was also shot in the leg during the struggle.
Evidence at trial will show that Firkus’ account “is not only possible, it’s exactly what happened,” Richman said.
“The bottom line is this — Nick Firkus had no reason to kill his wife,” Richman told the jury Friday during his opening statement. “… He did everything he could to save her. Her death was the tragedy of his life.”
But Lamin said Nicholas Firkus staged a burglary in his desperation and shot Heidi Firkus in the back, killing her.
A grand jury indicted Firkus in 2021, charging him with first-degree premeditated murder and second-degree intentional murder.
Nicholas Firkus is now 39. Heidi Firkus was 25 when she was killed.
Testimony in the trial continues Monday.
This is a developing story and will be updated.