Man charged with killing wife in Iowa seeks delay in trial after learning child has cancer

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IOWA CITY, Iowa — The attorney for a Missouri man charged with killing his wife in Iowa says his client needs time to care for his 5-year-old daughter while she fights cancer and is asking for a delay in his trial.

Alex Fazzino, who is free on bond, is scheduled to go on trial in January for the 2012 death of his 32-year-old wife, Emily. He has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, contending her death was an accidental drowning in a bathtub at their home in Boone.

Fazzino is now raising their three children in his hometown of Lee's Summit, Missouri, and was devastated after his youngest child was recently diagnosed with an acute form of leukemia, attorney William Kutmus said.

Kutmus said the girl must undergo chemotherapy in coming months, and he has asked the judge to delay the trial until April or May, "so the child can be with her father while she's undergoing this treatment."

Prosecutor Scott Brown didn't return a message seeking comment on the request Wednesday. The trial has already been delayed three times.

Investigators allege that Fazzino had a violent struggle with his estranged wife, and she died either from being strangled or forcibly drowned in the bathtub.

A state medical examiner ruled the cause and manner of death as undetermined, but a South Dakota doctor later concluded that she died from homicide caused by asphyxia. Fazzino was charged and arrested last year, but released after posting a $500,000 surety bond.

The couple had been going through a tumultuous breakup. Emily Fazzino had recently filed for divorce, and Alex Fazzino requested custody of their children though they were still living together.

On Jan. 29, 2012, Alex Fazzino called 911 to report that his wife was dying in the bathtub. Emergency responders found her naked on the bathroom floor with bruising on her neck and forehead.

Alex Fazzino told police he was watching a movie with their children and went to check on her when the water kept running. Defense lawyers and experts contend she likely had a seizure brought on by withdrawal from her acknowledged prior abuse of prescription painkillers.

Sedatives were found in her system, but not in a lethal amount. Prosecutors say her prior use of the drugs is irrelevant.

The trial was moved to Winneshiek County after Fazzino sought a change of venue, citing the local prominence of Emily Fazzino's family. Her father, Richard Beckwith, is chairman of Fareway Stores Inc., the Boone-based grocery chain that has more than 100 stores in eight states.

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