The 50-year-old man was convicted of manslaughter after his wife was found strangled to death in their bathroom in Düsseldorf November 2010, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported on Monday.
But his conviction was overruled by a federal court which said that the fact the woman was strangled for several minutes did not necessarily on its own mean she was killed intentionally, and now the case is being heard again – complete with a witness who is an expert on dogs.
The man’s lawyer said he and his wife had been drinking heavily on the night she died – he had a blood alcohol level of 3.4 parts per thousand when police arrived at their house.
He said the woman had fallen over in the bathroom and her husband had been unable to lift her up. He had given her a pillow and blanket and gone to bed, to find her dead the following afternoon.
Their 35-kilo dog must have smothered her, the lawyer argued, saying it was well-known that they sometimes kill their own puppies this way by accident.
The man said he only realised she had died at around 4 p.m., having got up, taken the dog for a walk and talked with his mother on the phone.
But Hans-Hermann Sangen told the court it was unfair to make the dog the scapegoat in the case.
The expert from the Labrador club in Velbert, said adults could not be put in danger by one of the dogs. He said newborns could be accidentally smothered by one of the animals if they snuggled up to them, but that adults could not.
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The case continues.