In a packed courtroom, a Minnesota judge sentenced a man to life in prison without parole Thursday for the death of his first wife, 13 years after he shot her and lied to investigators that it happened during a home invasion.
Several of Heidi Firkus' friends and family gave emotional victim statements before the judge sentenced Nick Firkus, 40, for his crimes. For years, Nick Firkus maintained he was innocent and that a mysterious home intruder was involved in her death.
However, prosecutors argued that there was no evidence to support his claims there was an intruder and suggested he lied to his wife about their debts.
"Every homicide is a tragedy. This one is particularly egregious. He hid behind his status for too many years," Elizabeth Lamin, the assistant district attorney for Ramsey County, Minnesota, said.
On April 25, 2010, Heidi Firkus called 911 saying there was a break-in at the couple's home and stopped talking after a gunshot went off, according to the audio from the call. Police found her dead and her husband wounded in the leg from a gunshot.
"20/20" will take a deep look into Heidi Firkus' murder and the 13-year-long investigation in an episode airing this Friday at 9 p.m. ET and streaming the next day on Hulu.
Nick Firkus told investigators that he fought over a shotgun with the intruder and that it went off, hitting both him and his wife.
Firkus also told officers that the couple was facing serious financial problems and were set to be evicted, but that he and Heidi kept those issues a secret from their family and friends.
No suspects were named and no one was arrested for years.
However, investigators were still looking into Nick Firkus' role in his wife's death, especially since there were discrepancies in his story. There were no signs of a break-in at the house and only Nick Firkus' DNA was found on the shotgun.
Firkus was arrested in May 2021 and charged with first- and second-degree murder. Prosecutors said that Nick Firkus killed his wife to hide from the shame of their financial troubles.
A jury convicted Nick Firkus on both charges on Feb. 10 after deliberating for four hours.
Peter Erickson, Heidi Firkus' brother, blasted Nick Firkus during his impact statement.
"Because of the lies we were told as early as the day after her murder, along with the pressures to believe them, it's been virtually impossible to find closure to our grief as the shock begins after Heidi's murder. The realization quickly set in that everything Nick was telling us betrayed who I knew my sister to be," he said.
"The fact that he had the audacity to peddle a story that was so obviously inconsistent with Heidi's character was, and still is, very much insulting and offensive to me and everyone else who actually knew and loved her."
Linda Erickson, the victim's mother, got emotional during her statement thinking about the years of life lost.
"Because of the unthinkable actions of one person, she was robbed and those who loved her were robbed of participating in that adventure with her," Linda Erickson said.
Nick Firkus' attorneys contended their client's story was the truth and that his wife's death was caused by the break-in.
Nick Firkus himself spoke, reiterating his claims that he didn't murder his wife saying, "my body is condemned to serve for another man's crime, but my soul is free."
Editor's Note: An original version of this story misstated how long the jury deliberated in Nick Firkus' murder trial. They deliberated for four hours. This story was also updated to make clear that Firkus' legal team denies that Firkus lied to his wife Heidi about their financial troubles.