Steven Pirus

Steven Pirus, right, appears in court Wednesday with state Assistant Public Defender Jon Helland.

A Madison man accused of shooting his wife to death and blowing up their Southwest Side home in September pleaded not guilty Wednesday to homicide, arson and other charges against him.

Steven D. Pirus, 59, who is charged with the death of his wife, Lee Anne Pirus, 50, waived his right to a preliminary hearing before Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess before not guilty pleas were entered on his behalf by his lawyer, state Assistant Public Defender Jon Helland.

The case will now be sent to the trial judge that is assigned, Circuit Judge Nicholas McNamara.

Pirus is charged with first-degree intentional homicide, arson, first-degree reckless endangerment and several counts of mistreating animals. A criminal complaint states that Pirus admitted to shooting Lee Anne Pirus in the head after she begged him to do it.

Because of the condition of her body, investigators have been unable to pinpoint when Lee Anne Pirus died, only that it was “weeks or months” before the Sept. 13 explosion at the Pirus home, which was at 7806 Stratton Way.

Pirus told police that he disconnected a natural gas line from the dryer in the basement of the home, which caused the explosion.

Among the evidence police have gathered were text messages between Pirus and a woman from Russia, whom Pirus called Olga, in which they talked about eventually getting married. Police also found a gun hidden in a storage locker in Belleville that was rented in Lee Anne Pirus’ name, according to court documents.

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Ed Treleven is the courts reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.