Jury selection began Tuesday in the murder trial of a man accused of killing his wife in their St. Paul home nearly 13 years ago.
Nicholas Firkus claimed that an intruder broke into the couple's home on the 1700 block of W. Minnehaha Avenue and shot and killed his wife, Heidi Firkus, in the early hours of April 25, 2010. He has pleaded not guilty.
Two potential jurors were interviewed Tuesday, but neither had been seated when court adjourned for the day, said Dennis Gerhardstein of the Ramsey County Attorney's Office. The defense will be allowed 15 strikes — moves to dismiss a potential juror without providing a reason — while the prosecution will have nine strikes.
Jury selection is set to resume Wednesday. Opening statements are scheduled for Friday, but that will depend on how fast 12 jurors and alternates are selected, Gerhardstein said.
"We have not had a high-profile case like this for a long time," he said.
A St. Paul SWAT team arrested Firkus, now 39, at his home in Mounds View on May 19, 2021. He was charged with first-degree premeditated murder and second-degree murder with intent.
"Dedication and meticulous investigative work have led us to a reckoning with the justice system for Mr. Firkus," Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said the day Firkus was taken into custody. "My thanks go out to the St. Paul Police Department, the FBI and the prosecutors in my office who worked tirelessly to bring this case before us today. Our hearts go out to the victim's family and friends who have patiently waited for answers to the events of that terrible day."
On the day of her death, Heidi Firkus, 25, had called 911 about 6:30 a.m. to report a break-in, saying that nobody appeared to have gotten inside the home. Thirty-eight seconds into the call, as she was giving dispatch her address, the 911 operator heard a noise that sounded like a gunshot. Firkus stopped speaking and the call went dead, the criminal complaint said.
St. Paul police found the front door ajar, a distinct odor of gunpowder inside the residence and Heidi Firkus lying dead in the kitchen with Nicholas Firkus' shotgun on the floor near the front entrance, the complaint continued.
Nicholas Firkus told investigators he struggled with an intruder near the front door of the home before he and his wife attempted to run out the back door toward a detached garage. That is when the gun went off and a bullet hit Heidi Firkus and "she went straight down," the complaint said.
Nicholas Firkus said the struggle continued, briefly, and the gun went off a second time, with a bullet hitting him in the leg before the suspect ran off through the front door. Firkus was able to give officers who arrived at the scene only "a vague description of the assailant," the complaint said.
Investigators at the scene said they found no evidence of a struggle as Nicholas Firkus described. A small table with a beer bottle, a water bottle and a receipt on it appeared undisturbed. Heidi Firkus was shot once in the back, and police found her about 14 feet from the front door, the complaint said.
The complaint also said Heidi Firkus' death occurred the day before the couple were to be evicted from their home. Records showed their home was in foreclosure and they owed more than $1,700 to the bank, in addition to more than $17,000 in credit card debt.
Firkus remarried two years after Heidi's death. Court records show the marriage dissolved in 2019. Nicholas and his second wife had three children when they divorced, court records show.