And now he’s sentenced to die in the same shocking way.
“I know I’ve done a terrible thing,” said Holger Klein, 46, as he sat on the witness stand begging the jury to give him life imprisonment rather than a death sentence.
“But I am not a bad man. This was just a single act of anger. She wrecked our budget, and I lost my temper.”
Klein came home from work one day and found that his wife, Helen Klein, 43, had spent 900 dollars on a new recliner, without discussing it with him first.
It was the straw that broke camel’s back.
After working as an electrician for 25 years, his thoughts immediately turned to electricity, and he delicately rigged the seat and back of the soft, new chair with live wires and plugged it in.
He then coaxed his wife into the chair by offering to wash the supper dishes by himself, allowing her to sit down and relax. It turned out to be the last time she would ever sit down. Just seconds after her body touched the cushion she was fried to death in her own living room chair.
Neighbors and relatives testified that Helen Klein had been irritating her husband for years by buying expensive things without asking him first, and Holger had lost his temper and become violent a number of times.
“She knew it would make him angry,” said Andrea Klein, Holger’s sister.
“She deliberately bought things they couldn’t afford, just to get my brother upset. She knew he was stressed about money. It was her way of getting revenge, because, to tell you the truth, he can be very stingy.
She added: “One day Helen went out and bought the biggest microwave in the store — without asking him. And another time she got her hands on his savings passbook and withdrew almost everything he had. She bought a plane ticket to Australia that time.
“But he couldn’t handle the $900 recliner. She went too far. Holger never wanted a recliner, and he didn’t need a recliner.”
Several witnesses testified that Holger Klein was extremely stingy.
“He was so tight that it forced her to be sneaky,” a close friend of the victim said. “He kept all the money to himself, and he never let her have any.”
Although the Blintz, East Germany jury did sympathize with Holger, they didn’t feel sorry enough for him to spare him his life. They still sentenced him to death in the electric chair.