Crime

Bail set at $2 million for Tacoma-area man charged with killing wife

A Tacoma-area man accused of strangling his wife told detectives he did it because he’d lost his job and didn’t want his wife to have to deal with the financial fallout.

Pierce County prosecutors on Monday charged Michael Brown, 57, with first-degree murder. He pleaded not guilty and was ordered jailed in lieu of $2 million bail.

Brown called 911 Thursday and told dispatchers he’d killed his wife. When deputies arrived moments later, Brown answered the front door, directed them to his wife’s body upstairs and then locked himself in the bathroom.

Deputies found Valerie Brown, 59, in her nightgown, lying in bed. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Brown eventually came out of the bathroom, and deputies discovered he had cut his throat, records show. Brown underwent surgery and was released from the hospital Saturday.

Detectives said that Brown told them during an interview that he killed his wife because he didn’t want her to struggle financially.

“He said he took the belt off as he walked up the stairs, put it around her neck and pulled it tight as he stood next to her as she lay in bed,” according to charging papers.

“He said he knew what he had done was wrong and called 911 to report what he had done.”

Brown reportedly was taking anti-depressants at the time of the slaying. Deputies were called to his home in December after he attempted suicide. He was voluntarily committed at that time. It’s unclear when he was released.

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