PORTLAND (AP) – A 49-year-old Portland woman told police she fatally stabbed her husband after he angrily came at her in their Portland home, and her lawyer said Wednesday that it appeared to be a clear case of self-defense.

Laureen Rugen, who is 5 feet 4 inches tall and 130 pounds, told police she used a butcher knife to stab her husband, Christian Rugan, who was listed in 2003 as 6 feet tall and 280 pounds. The husband had two previous assault convictions, at least one involving his wife, said defense lawyer J.P. DeGrinney.

“That is the epitome of a type of self-defense. Someone is coming after you. You fear for your safety. You know they have a history of abuse against you,” DeGrinney said Wednesday.

Rugen, who remained in jail on a suicide watch after her initial court appearance Wednesday, had been a longtime victim of domestic abuse, DeGrinney said. Once, her husband was ordered to attend domestic abuse education in 1995, the same year he served 60 days for assault, the lawyer said.

When police arrived early Tuesday at the Rugens’ two-story duplex, they found the husband lying on his back at the bottom of the stairs. “Laureen Rugen kept repeating, ‘I found him like this’ and ‘Is he dead?’ ” according to a police affidavit filed in court.

Rugen had stab wounds on his chest and legs and lacerations on his stomach, according to the affidavit. There was blood on the stairs, at the bottom of the stairs and in the basement, and signs of struggle in an upstairs bedroom.

After Christian Rugen was declared dead, Laureen Rugen said words to the effect of, “He came at me. I did it. I killed him. Why did I do that? He was so mad, so ugly,” the affidavit said. When asked what she used, she pointed to a butcher knife that was drying in a dish rack in the kitchen.

After Rugen’s arrest on Tuesday, police characterized the slaying as a case of domestic abuse and said there had been reports of domestic violence in the Rugen household over the past few years.

DeGrinney said Laureen Rugen had injuries consistent with abuse. “If our theory of the case bears out, hopefully the state will dismiss the charge against her,” he said.

AP-ES-04-09-08 1752EDT

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