Jury selection for the trial of a Cottage Grove man accused of murdering his wife began today.
A grand jury indicted Stephen Allwine, 44, in March of first-degree premeditated murder, a charge that carries a mandatory life sentence if convicted.
Allwine was initially charged with second-degree intentional murder in November 2017 for the death of his wife, Amy, in their south Cottage Grove home.
Prosecutors allege Allwine killed her and attempted to stage her death as a suicide after a murder-by-hire plot failed.
Amy Allwine was found in their home with a gunshot wound to the head, police said.
But investigators allege Stephen Allwine made contacts through the Dark Web, a hidden and mostly anonymous portion of the internet associated with criminal activity, as part of a months-long plot to kill his wife.
Allwine's alleged Dark Web activity included an inquiry into purchasing a drug that was found in unusually high concentrations in his wife's body after her death.
Allwine was first arrested in January 2017 following an investigation by local, state and federal authorities.
Prosecutors allege Allwine accessed the Dark Web in 2016 in an attempt to have his wife killed - a plot he planned to fund with bitcoins, a virtual currency. Prosecutors and police alleged Allwine poisoned and shot his wife after two plots fell through. Authorities said they discovered evidence on Allwine's phone and computer of inquiries to purchase scopolamine, a drug used to treat nausea, with bitcoins.
A medical examiner reported finding that drug in Amy Allwine's body at a level 45 higher than a prescribed dose. She had no prescription.
While a trial jury will deliver a verdict on Allwine's case, the grand jury responsible for his indictment determined whether the state had enough probable cause to charge him with first-degree murder.
Among the questions prosecutors and Allwine's defense attorney asked potential jurors during the selection process were their familiarity with bitcoins and the Dark Web.