Sunday, January 31, 2010

Santa Rosa, CA: Police investigate couple's deaths at SR home


Published: Sunday, January 31, 2010 at 9:35 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 31, 2010 at 9:35 a.m.
A Santa Rosa couple found dead in their westside home Saturday may have died during a murder-suicide or a double suicide, a police official said Sunday.

An adult son of Jennifer Hsieh, 53, and Wen-Kuo Hsieh, 50, found them late Saturday morning in their Valley West Drive home, Sgt. Steve Fraga said.

Autopsies scheduled for Monday were expected to help determine whether the married couple died by their own hands or whether the husband killed his wife and then himself, Fraga said.

The two appeared to have died either by hanging or strangulation.

Detectives investigated the deaths for hours Saturday to rule out a double homicide. By evening they'd determined there were no suspects in the deaths, Fraga said.

The couple spoke Mandarin Chinese and English. Some of the paperwork found at the home was in Mandarin and police hadn't established Sunday whether a note had been left.

Twin Peaks, CA: Man and son in possible murder-suicide in Twin Peaks

By Mike Cruz
Posted: 01/31/2010 12:55:50 PM PST

A Pinion Hills man and his 9-month-old son were found dead early Sunday morning in a possible murder-suicide in Twin Peaks, according to sheriff's officials.

Deputies from the Hesperia sheriff's station received a report Saturday that a 25-year-old man took his infant son, who resides in Yucca Valley, during a court-ordered visitation and threatened to kill his child and then commit suicide, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.

Deputies found a vehicle with the bodies of a man and child at 1:30 a.m. Sunday on a rural dirt road in Twin Peaks. Both bodies had suffered traumatic injuries and were pronounced dead at the scene, sheriff's officials reported.

Neither of the victims have been identified by authorities.

An investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact Sheriff's Detective Ryan Ford or Sgt. Frank Montanez at (909) 387-3589.

Wichita, KS: Two bodies found at Wichita home

The Wichita Eagle
WICHITA _ Police continue to investigate the deaths of a couple found in their home on South Edwards, officials said tonight.

Police think the 57-year-old man died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. But investigators are still trying to determine how the 36-year-old woman died, said Lt. Ken Landwehr, head of the homicide unit.

Police found the couple's bodies in their home shortly after 6 p.m. Friday in a small house at 708 S. Edwards.

The discovery came after someone called 911, asking for police to check on the welfare of a 57-year-old man, said police spokesman Gordon Bassham. Officers had to force their way into the house.

"Preliminary evidence indicated the woman's death was suspicious," Bassham said in an e-mail. Police are waiting on a forensic examination to determine how she died, he said.

Police will provide more information about the deaths during the regular briefing for reporters Monday morning, he said.

Reach Tim Potter at 316-268-6684 or

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Salt Lake City, UT: Police: Former mother-in-law killed Utah teacher

Police say teacher was killed by former mother-in-law

By Abigail Shaha
Deseret News
Published: Saturday, Jan. 30, 2010 11:58 a.m. MST
MILLCREEK — An assistant preschool teacher was shot and killed Friday by her 70-year-old former mother-in-law, police said.
Tetyana Nikitina, 34, was shot by Mary Nance Hanson about 3:30 p.m. in the parking lot of the Hal J. Schultz facility of the Salt Lake CAP Head Start school at 336 E. 3900 South, said Unified Police Lt. Don Hutson.
Hanson then reloaded and allegedly fired several more rounds as Nikitina was driving away.
According to Utah State Court records, Nikitina filed for divorce from Dale Jankowski in February 2005. Police say they believe Jankowski is Hanson's son.
Twice after the divorce, in August 2005 and again in January 2006, Nikitina filed for protective orders against Jankowski, claiming cohabitant abuse, court records show.
"We still can't identify a specific event that may have triggered (Hanson)," Hutson said Saturday. "The divorce has been occurring for quite some time, (along with) custody battles, but that's nothing new."
Nikitina had just left the school for the day and got into her car when Hanson approached her and opened fire, Hutson said.
Hanson, armed with a .38-caliber revolver, unloaded her gun into the car as the single mother of two sat in the driver's seat and began to pull away. Hanson then reloaded and continued firing through the car at close range, he said.
The revolver typically holds five rounds. Police would not say how many shots they believe were fired.
Hanson then put down her gun and called 911. When officers arrived, she was waiting for them.
When asked why she had fired the shots, Hutson said the only explanation Hanson offered a 911 operator was, "I don't know, and that's all I'm going to say."
Police also received multiple other 911 calls from employees inside the school and others in the area. There were no students at the school at the time.
After Nikitina was shot, her car rolled forward into another vehicle. She was still behind the steering wheel when officers arrived. Nikitina was taken to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
When asked if the alleged shooter had any signs of impairment or illness, Hutson said, "She looked coherent. She made appropriate (answers) when we asked her questions."
Hanson was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail on Friday for investigation of murder. She is a concealed weapons permit holder, and her most recent address is in Taylorsville. Investigators found her car parked about a mile away from the crime scene, Hutson said.
Salt Lake CAP Head Start is a federally funded, comprehensive early childhood development program serving low-income children between the ages of 3 and 5.
Nikitina had taught at the school for five years as an assistant teacher, said Erin Trenbeath-Murray, director of Salt Lake Community Action Program, which operates the Head Start schools in Tooele and Salt Lake counties.
There were 12 staff members in the building at the time of the shooting. One staff member went outside shortly afterward and returned to report that Nikitina was dead, Trenbeath-Murray said.
A social worker was called to the school Friday to help the staffers.
It was unclear Friday whether the school would resume classes next week.
"We're working on a game plan," Trenbeath-Murray said.

Lancaster, PA: Pa. man gets 30 to 60 years in girlfriend's murder

A man has been sentenced to 30 to 60 years for the beating death of his girlfriend in south-central Pennsylvania in November 2008.

Thirty-year-old Kenneth Brown Jr. pleaded guilty in Lancaster County Court on Friday to third-degree murder and other offenses in the death of 28-year-old Tonya Fetrow. Authorities said Brown beat her on a Lancaster street corner and then dumped her body on along a rural road.

Judge Dennis Reinaker imposed the maximum sentence, calling Brown's actions "barbaric." Brown apologized to the judge and to weeping relatives of Fetrow, the mother of his young daughter and another child. He also pleaded guilty to theft, abuse of a corpse, false imprisonment, fleeing and tampering with evidence.

Defense attorney David Blanck said his client was under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

St. Paul, MN: St. Paul police: Boy stabbed, killed by girlfriend's ex

By Elizabeth Mohr
Updated: 01/30/2010 07:43:37 PM CST

Phillip Eugene Elphage, 19, of St. Paul, who was arrested early Saturday on suspicion of stabbing a 17-year-old St. Paul boy to death. Elphage is accused of trying to break into an ex-girlfriend's home, where he confronted and killed Darius Derrick Maxwell. (Ramsey County Sheriff's Office)
The 17-year-old boy who was stabbed to death overnight had confronted someone breaking into the home of his girlfriend, St. Paul police said today.

Darius Derrick Maxwell, of St. Paul, was in a residence in the 700 block of East Maryland Avenue around midnight, when Phillip Eugene Elphage tried to break in, police said.

"The preliminary investigation indicates that after Elphage broke into the home he confronted Maxwell about being the female resident's boyfriend and began to stab him," the police department said in a prepared statement.

Maxwell was stabbed multiple times, but managed to escape. Responding authorities found him outside the home and transported him to Regions Hospital, where he was pronouced dead about an hour later.

No one else was injured.

Elphage was arrested withough incident at the scene. He remains in custody. Police are not looking for any other suspects.

Investigators learned that the female resident, who has not been identified, had a prior relationship with Elphage. She has a restraining order against him, which was served in December. will post updates as they are available.

Linn County, IA: Police: One Person Dead, Two Injured in Shooting; Suspect Takes Own Life

LINN COUNTY — Authorities say the man suspected of killing one person and injuring two others in a shooting on Friday has taken his own life.

The shooting happened at around 7:30 Friday night at the Vernon Heights Mobile Home Court, 7100 Mount Vernon Road, Unit 24, just outside of Cedar Rapids.

The Linn County Sheriff's Office says Tawny Jo Tomberlin, 43, was killed in the shooting. Duane Roy Tomberlin Jr., 48, and James Edward Campbell, 27, were taken to area hospitals suffering from non-life threatening injuries.

Authorities began searching for the suspect, Christopher Allen Vogt, 42, after witnesses reported seeing Vogt leave the scene of the shooting in a pickup truck.

Around 11:30 Friday night, authorities located the suspect's truck in a farm field off of East Bertram Road, near Mount Vernon. Investigators found Vogt dead inside the truck with what they say appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Neighbors at the mobile home court said Tomberlin had recently left Marengo and moved into the mobile home with her brother to escape an unhealthy relationship with an estranged boyfriend.

The Linn County Sheriff's Department is continuing its investigation into the shooting.

Clemmons, NC: Authorities investigate death of Clemmons couple and suicide of Mocksville man

By Mary Giunca | Journal Reporter

Published: January 24, 2010

CLEMMONS — Authorities are investigating both the shooting deaths of an couple whose bodies were found at a mobile home in Clemmons early Sunday afternoon and the apparent suicide of a Davie County man, court documents said.

The couple had been estranged and the wife had been dating the man who killed himself, a search warrant on file at the Forsyth County Magistrate's Office said.

A family member and authorities found Patricia and Otto Brandon dead from gunshots wounds in a home at 1646 Chardale Drive in the Chappell Mobile Home Park off Styers Ferry Road, according sheriff's officials and the warrant said. He was found in a chair in the living room while she was found lying on the floor.

According to the search warrant, the Brandons had been separated for some time and were attempting to reconcile their marriage. Patricia Brandon had been dating Franklin Gray McBride, of 290 Hartly Road, Mocksville. The warrant said that he was not happy about the reconciliation.

Myra Bruggman, the Brandon's daughter had been trying to contact her mother by phone since Friday, the warrant said.

She received a call from McBride's daughter-in-law Saturday evening who said that McBride had committed suicide in Davie County, the warrant said.

That led her to go to her parents' house the next day. She went inside, saw her mother's body and left to call authorities.

Forsyth Sheriff's investigators were able to confirm with Davie County authorities that McBride died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was 72 and died suddenly Friday, an obituary said.

The Brandon's bodies have been taken to Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, said Major Brad Stanley of the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office.

Stanley could not say how long couple had been dead.

"We will let the medical examiner make that determination," Stanley said.

An autopsy is expected to take place Monday.

Palisades Park, NJ: Authorities: Palisades Park home site of murder-suicide

Monday, January 25, 2010
PALISADES PARK — The bodies of a man and a woman were found in their second-floor apartment on West Harriet Avenue on Monday, victims of an apparent murder-suicide, authorities said.

A Palisades Park police car sits in front of a West Harriet Avenue residence earlier Monday.
The bodies of Sun Chu Cho, 78, and her husband, Dae Sung Kim, 79, were found by their son around 12:45 p.m., said John L. Molinelli, the Bergen County prosecutor. Molinelli said the son left work early, worried because he had not been able to reach his parents all morning by phone.

Cho, who Molinelli said had been partially bedridden since she suffered a stroke about 10 years ago, was in her bed, strangled with a necktie when her son arrived. Her husband, who had learned recently that he had prostate cancer, was found hanging by a necktie from a hinge on the apartment’s bathroom door, his body facing his wife’s, Molinelli said.

An envelope next to the couple’s bed had the words “suicide note” written on it in Korean, Molinelli said. Inside it was a note, handwritten in Korean by Kim, that detailed the physical discomfort of his cancer and apologized to the couple’s children. Kim did not mention his wife in the note, Molinelli said.

The son, whose name was not made public, was being interviewed by authorities late Monday, Molinelli said. The prosecutor said the couple also had a daughter.

The couple had lived in their second-floor apartment at the corner of West Harriet and Broad avenues for about two years, according to the superintendent of the three-story building. The superintendent declined to give his name.

The couple’s next-door neighbor, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Kim occasionally would speak to him in fluent Spanish.

“It’s a pity,” the neighbor said. “They were a nice couple, very quiet. I saw them once in a while. They pretty much kept to themselves.”

E-mail: and

Plentywood, MT: Plentywood deaths look like murder-suicide

ZACH BENOIT Of The Gazette Staff | Posted: Friday, January 29, 2010 3:25 pm | 1 Comment

The Sheridan County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the deaths of two Plentywood residents earlier this week as a murder-suicide, Sheriff Patrick Ulrickson said Friday.
The bodies of Michael Lodahl, 52, and Monica Olson, 44, were found late Tuesday night in a home on the south side of Plentywood after a sheriff’s deputy was dispatched there.
Ulrickson said Friday afternoon that Olson died from a single gunshot wound and Lodahl died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
A sheriff’s deputy went to the home in Plentywood on Tuesday at around 11:20 p.m. and found the bodies of Lodahl and Olson, according to a Sheriff’s Office press release. Ulrickson said a neighbor who heard a dog barking at the home went to check on it, noticed the bodies of Lodahl and Olson were not moving and called 911.
Ulrickson said Lodahl and Olson were not married, but he did not release more information on their relationship and said he didn’t want to speculate on a motive for the deaths.
The bodies were sent to Billings for autopsies, the release said. Sheridan County Coroner David Fulkerson said autopsies have been completed, but he declined to release details of the findings because of the continuing investigation. Ulrickson said toxicology results will not be available “for quite some time.”
The investigation will now focus on establishing a timeline for the evening leading up to the deaths and searching for a motive. The sheriff’s office and an agent from the Montana Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation continue to investigate.
According to her obituary in today’s Billings Gazette, Olson is survived by her two daughters, Ashley and Taylor, and stepdaughters, Erin and Alexa, as well as numerous family members, including her parents and four siblings.
Born in 1965 in Plentywood, Olson graduated from high school in Medicine Lake in 1984. She attended beauty school in Billings, according to her obituary, before starting a 24-year career with the U.S. Postal Service, working in Billings as a clerk and Plentywood as a letter carrier over the years.
Her obituary described her as a “fierce defender of friends and family” who spent much of her free time volunteering for the Humane Society of the United States and at local events in Plentywood.
Services for Olson will be held at 10 a.m. Monday at the Plentywood Lutheran Church. She will be laid to rest at the Plentywood Memorial Cemetery. A service also will be held on Feb. 6 at 1 p.m. in Billings at the Dahl Funeral Home, 10 Yellowstone Ave.

Chesapeake, VA: Norfolk man charged in girlfriend's death

By Louis Hansen
The Virginian-Pilot
© January 30, 2010

The boyfriend of a woman found dead in her home told police the couple were making homemade videos depicting violence, according to an affidavit.

Police have charged Eric Spencer Baugher, 35, of Norfolk with first-degree murder and weapons charges in the death of his girlfriend, Karen Kittell.

In the sworn statement, Chesapeake police said Baugher called 911 Sunday night and told a dispatcher he shot his girlfriend.

Police responded to Kittell's home in the 1300 block of Thyme Trail after 10:30 p.m. and found Kittell unresponsive in the upstairs bathroom.

She had been shot in the head.

A search of Kittell's home yielded a .40-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun, a single bullet and casing, according to court records.

Baugher told police the couple made their own videos with violent scenes, according to the affidavit filed in Norfolk Circuit Court.

Police requested permission to search a trailer home off Woodall Road in Norfolk for electronic recording equipment, videos, electronic media and storage devices. Police also requested to look for ammunition.

A judge this week ordered a psychological evaluation of Baugher, who is being held without bail.

A preliminary hearing for the three felony charges is scheduled for March 24.

Pomfret, CT: NL man charged in girlfriend's stabbing death

Published 01/30/2010 12:00 AMUpdated 01/30/2010 02:36 AM

A New London man with a long criminal history was arrested Friday and charged with the December stabbing death of his girlfriend in Pomfret.

Timothy Quail, 46, whose last known address was 47 Coit St., was charged with murder and second-degree larceny, according to police. He was already being held in a Suffield prison after being arrested Dec. 30 by New London police for failing to register as a sex offender.

Quail allegedly beat and stabbed to death Robin Cloutier, 38, of Pomfret, police said. Her body was found Dec. 16 in her Wolf Den Drive apartment by her father, police said. Cloutier died from multiple stab wounds and cutting injuries, according to the state medical examiner's office.

After obtaining a warrant, state police detectives from the Eastern District Major Crime Squad charged Quail with the killing shortly after 10 a.m. Friday.

Quail's criminal history dates back to at least 1988 when he was convicted of third-degree sexual assault. Since then, he has been required to register with the state as a sex offender.

His criminal record includes multiple arrests for charges that include burglary, drug possession, larceny, third-degree assault, probation violation and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

He was also arrested in 2004 by South Windsor police for failing to register as a sex offender.

During an appearance in Danielson Superior Court Friday, Quail was ordered held on $1.5 million bond, and his case was continued to March 24.

Peoria, AZ: Officers kill man during domestic violence incident

A 62-year-old man wielding a baseball bat was shot and killed by police officers inside his home Monday evening.

The incident began around 7:10 p.m. Jan. 25, when police received a call from a woman inside a home in the 10600 block of West Via Montoya Drive, west of Lake Pleasant Road between Deer Valley and Pinnacle Peak roads, reporting an argument.

Officers arrived within five minutes of the call and encountered Richard Allan Dodds waving a baseball bat, police spokesperson Jay Davies said.

“When Dodds refused the officers' commands to drop the bat and began to charge at them, one of the officers deployed his taser at him and two officers, David Lebo and Jonathon Moore, fired their guns at Dodds,” Davies said.

Dodds was airlifted to a Valley hospital in critical condition and later pronounced dead.

In addition to Dodds' wife, present and residing in the home during the shooting was the couple's daughter, son-in-law and their 9-year-old daughter.

Dodds' wife told police that they had been arguing over finances.

“None of the other family members or police personnel were injured during the incident,” Davies said.

Lebo has been with the police department for more than four years and Moore for more than two years.

Both officers have been placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure in officer-involved shootings.

Reach the reporter at or 623-847-4615.

Clinton Township, MI: Clinton Township man charged in girlfriend's fatal shooting


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A Clinton Township man was ordered held without bond today on murder and firearms charges in the shooting death of his girlfriend at their apartment.

Samuel Lee Harris, 62, is charged with first-degree murder and a felony firearm offense in the death of Valerie Lee, Township Police Capt. Richard Maierle said.

A not-guilty plea was entered for Harris during his arraignment in 41B District Court in Clinton Township. Harris requested a court-appointed attorney, according to the court. He was transferred to the Macomb County Jail.

A preliminary exam is scheduled for Feb. 10.

Harris is accused of shooting Lee, 49, in the head Wednesday in their Hillside Apartments unit on Gratiot north of 15 Mile, Maierle said.

He said the couple had ongoing domestic issues, but declined to say what they were.

Maierle said police believe Harris left the location, returned and went to a neighbor saying he found Lee and to call 911, which the neighbor did. He said Lee, a nurse’s assistant at a nursing home, was found in the bedroom.

Contact CHRISTINA HALL: 586-826-7265 or

Las Vegas, NV: Anonymous tip leads police to body of missing woman

Man who killed self after standoff thought to have slain fiancee

The body of a missing Las Vegas woman was found over the weekend in a stolen pickup, and investigators think her now-deceased fiance was responsible for her death.

Anjelica Fernandez was found dead with a gunshot wound to the head on Saturday, her 21st birthday. The truck was parked in the area of Gowan Road and Rainbow Boulevard. An anonymous tipster told police where to find the stolen vehicle.

Las Vegas police Sgt. William Scott said investigators think 28-year-old Keith Toten was responsible for the slaying.

After Toten killed himself early Wednesday after a three-hour standoff with police, detectives spoke to a witness in Fernandez's death. Investigators secured a search warrant for the couple's house and uncovered "a lot of evidence" that Fernandez had been slain, Scott said.

They suspected he hid her body in a stolen vehicle but did not know where it was until receiving the tip.

Detectives think she was killed around Jan. 11. That was six days after the last time she had been seen by her family.

Fernandez's father said Monday that he was "a little more at peace" after his daughter's body was found.

"We've got her back," Frank Fernandez said. "We brought her home. We don't have to wonder, where is she? What did he do to the body? Where did it go?"

An anonymous tipster also was responsible for telling police soon after Toten's suicide that Toten had killed the woman.

Frank Fernandez thinks the tipster might have been involved in her death.

"I truly believe that there was more than one person involved, and they had something to do with helping him," he said.

Toten had a long criminal history involving stolen vehicles. He served time in prison for burglary and possession of stolen vehicles.

Detectives discovered a trove of stolen goods inside his house. Property crimes investigators are working to return those items to their owners this week, Scott said.

"The guy's house is just loaded with stolen items," including televisions and car parts, Scott said. "You name it, he stole it."

On Monday, Toten's family members expressed remorse over Anjelica Fernandez's death but said they do not believe that Toten was responsible.

Jessica Maurer, Toten's 22-year-old sister, said he did not have the heart to kill someone.

"A criminal record doesn't mean he was a murderer," she said.

Toten's family members said they liked Fernandez.

"She was a great person," Maurer said.

Family members acknowledge Toten's criminal history, but they said he was never violent.

Stephanie Toten, who divorced him last year, said that he never struck her and that even after they separated, he supported her.

"With him, it was always work, family and friends," she said.

In April, Keith Toten lost his job as an ironworker. In October, he began falling into old habits as his life spiraled out of control. He began selling drugs and stealing cars.

Toten's family said that he met Fernandez through a drug deal that month and that the two began living together.

"It got really bad after October," Maurer said. "It was nothing about Anjelica. It was just him, himself."

Toten's father died when he was young, and his mother was never very involved in his life. The family members he did have began to distance themselves from him, Maurer said.

But never did they think that he could kill Fernandez. The two always seemed happy, Toten's family said, adding that detectives found love notes and letters in his house. One of Toten's sisters said he had gone to seven jewelry stores before choosing an engagement ring for Fernandez.

When Toten's relatives heard about her death, their hearts went out to Fernandez's family.

"We are very sorry for their loss," Maurer said. "Anjelica was an awesome person. It's really sad that she's gone."

Contact reporter Lawrence Mower at or 702-383-0440.

Las Vegas: Man kills himself after standoff with police; may have killed fiancee

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Las Vegas police are investigating whether a man who killed himself after a morning standoff also killed his 20-year-old fiancee.

The Clark County coroner identified the man Friday as 28-year-old Keith Alan Toten, and has classified his death as a suicide.

Police Lt. Lewis Roberts says investigators are checking whether Toten’s death Wednesday morning had any connection with the disappearance of Anjelica Fernandez several weeks ago.

Police found Toten in a stolen car at an apartment complex in northwest Las Vegas and spent several hours trying to convince him to surrender before he shot himself in the head a little after 5 a.m.

Fernandez’s family says she broke contact with them when she moved in with Toten last year.

She was last seen by family members in early January.

Sacremento, CA: Parolee Accused Of Killing Girlfriend

Woman Dies In Sacramento Days After Attack

POSTED: 5:28 am PST January 29, 2010
UPDATED: 3:12 pm PST January 29, 2010

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- A man will face a murder charge in the killing of his girlfriend, Sacramento police said.

Sacramento Police Dept.
Donald Fernandes
Karen Curtin, 50, died Thursday evening after she was assaulted on Sunday.
Her boyfriend, 35-year-old Donald Fernandes, was initially taken into custody on suspicion of attempted murder, torture, assault with a deadly weapon and violating parole.
Police responded at 1:35 p.m. Sunday to the 2300 block of Boxwood Street on a domestic violence call.
Upon arrival, police found Curtin injured. She was taken for treatment to UC Davis Medical Center, where she later died.

Memphis, TN: Ex-boyfriend convicted of reduced charges in death of rival

By Lawrence Buser
Posted January 29, 2010 at 5:10 p.m. , updated January 29, 2010 at 9:44 p.m.
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An ex-boyfriend who said he did not intentionally run over and kill his rival in 2008 was convicted Friday on a reduced charge of criminally negligent homicide.

Marcus Hill may get out of jail before the snow and ice melt since he has been in jail nearly as long as the maximum sentence he faces for the low-level felony. He will be sentenced Wednesday.

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Hill, 26, was convicted in the death of Terriance Hall, 25, who was struck by Hill's vehicle outside the home of Tiffany Davis, Hill's former girlfriend who then was dating Hall.

The incident occurred May 3, 2008, in the 4800 block of Farmwood near the Southland Mall in Whitehaven.

Hill, who also ran over Davis' foot during the incident, told the Criminal Court jury that he did not intentionally try to injure anyone and that the Cadillac Escalade he was driving that afternoon seemed to take off on a path of its own.

He was acquitted of attempted murder and aggravated assault charges by jurors who deliberated Thursday evening and nearly all day Friday.

Hill, who was represented by attorneys Arthur Horne and Murray Wells, would have been sentenced to life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder as charged.

Instead, he faces a maximum of two years in prison with parole eligibility after serving less than five months.

Hill, however, has been in jail some 20 months since the incident and could become a free man when he is sentenced Wednesday by Judge Carolyn Wade Blackett.

-- Lawrence Buser: 529-2385

Friday, January 29, 2010

Monroe, LA: Johnson found guilty of wife's murder Conviction carries automatic life sentence


Harold Johnson, a 50-year-old Monroe man accused of bludgeoning his wife to death, was found guilty as charged of second-degree murder Saturday night.

The 12-member jury returned the verdict following six days of trial and four hours of jury deliberation. The verdict carries an automatic sentence of life in prison without benefit of probation or parole.

Fourth Judicial District Attorney Jerry Jones, who prosecuted the case alongside assistant DAs Josephine Heller and Cindy Lavespere, called the decision a just and well thought out verdict.

"This was a very heinous and very horrible crime," Jones said after the verdict was announced, "but justice was served. The jury took a long time in deliberation, I think to the credit of the defense attorney and an indication of the nature of these cases."

In the opening remarks of the trial, defense attorney George Britton conceded his client killed his wife, Linda "Gail" Johnson. But Britton asked the jury to return a verdict of manslaughter in the case, a lesser homicide charge that carries a maximum of 40 years in prison. The jury's deliberation, which at times grew loud enough to be heard in the courtroom, hinged on whether Harold Johnson had killed his wife in the heat of passion.

Britton began the last day of trial by calling the defendant to witness stand in his own defense. In answering his attorney's questions, Johnson led the courtroom through his history with "Gail," the child they conceived in high school, the cocaine habit he fought and succumbed to after 20 years when the child died and when he tried to reunite with her. He described the heated arguments with his wife over drugs, women and money.

On the night he murdered his wife, Johnson testified she brought up one woman Johnson had been seeing and accused her of having AIDS.

"I said, 'Gail, if she's got AIDS, guess who else got AIDS,'" Johnson said.

After that comment, Johnson claimed his wife reached over in bed to get a weapon in her purse, prompting him to beat her with a bottle of gin that was to be their anniversary gift. The defendant said he cleaned up the murder scene because he didn't want his grandchildren to see all the blood.

In his cross-examination, Jones attacked the details of Johnson's testimony, questioning why he let her bleed out, why a dress he claimed she wore had no blood on it and why his testimony on the stand contradicted a recorded phone transcript where he claimed he hit her.

With a stand-in gin bottle, Jones showed the court how Johnson wielded the murder weapon. He showed pictures of the ditch where Johnson had dumped her body. He showed pictures of a "defensive wound" the wife suffered on her hand during the beating.

"When you hit her that first time and she screamed, at that point you could have stopped, couldn't you?" Jones asked Johnson.

"If I thought of it, I could have stopped," Johnson answered.

In the end, the jury decided Johnson had his reason when he killed his wife. Jones called it a verdict Linda "Gail" Johnson deserved.

"No one deserves to be thrown to the side of road, dumped like garbage," Jones said. "The right verdict was reached."

Defense attorney says client killed wife in the heat of passion


Harold Johnson’s attorney said in an opening statement today that his client killed his wife in August 2008 and he acted in the heat of passion.

Defense attorney George Britton asked the 12-member, 4th District Court Jury to focus on Harold and Linda Gayle Johnson’s 20 years of marriage. He suggested the couple’s relationship was difficult and volatile.

Harold Johnson is charged with second-degree murder and faces life in prison. Britton told jurors evidence in the trial will show that he acted in the heat of passion and that jurors should return the lesser verdict of manslaughter.

District Attorney Jerry Jones, who is leading the team of prosecutors, told jurors that evidence would support the second-degree murder charge.

Harold Johnson is accused of bludgeoning his wife to death and then dumping her body in a ditch south of Interstate 20 off Parker Road.

Jones said the type and number of wounds on the victim’s body indicated the defendant had opportunity to consider what he was doing while beating the victim.

Jones described the victim as a woman of habit and a meticulous housekeeper.

When Linda Gayle Johnson became missing, Jones said her family became suspicious when they went to her home on North McGuire Avenue in Monroe and found cleaning items out of place and Harold Johnson, who stayed in the bedroom.

Jones said when Harold Johnson left the bedroom one family member went inside, found blood on the mattress and screamed. Harold Johnson fled.

The trial resumes this afternoon with testimony.

Article: Maryland continues work on domestic violence laws

January 29, 2010 - 3:30am
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Maryland lawmakers are continuing to push for legislation to help stop domestic violence cases in the state.
Fifty-three people died as the direct result of domestic violence in Maryland in 2009. After a ceremony to honor them in Annapolis next week, lawmakers will begin working on the Safe Homes Act of 2010.

The law aims to give those living with domestic violence a safe way to remove themselves from a bad relationship.

"[The bill will] provide an option for changing locks, another is to provide an option for getting out of lease if the person feels they are not safe staying there," says Michele Cohen with the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence.

Another bill would try to give additional help to people when a protective order is violated.

The bills will help expand laws already passed in October 2009 that calls for the removal of firearms from a home if a protective order has been issued.

Over half of the 53 people who died as the result of domestic violence in Maryland last year were killed with firearms.

Cohen says that while it is too early to distinguish whether or not the October 2009 law has had a positive effect, the numbers of domestic violence deaths in the state dropped from 2008 to 2009.

WTOP's Kate Ryan contributed to this report.

Article: Panel releases latest domestic violence report

By Abigail Curtis
BDN Staff
AUGUSTA, Maine — Holly Dee held a photograph of her daughter Thursday as she listened to officials talk at the State House about the grim realities of domestic violence homicide in Maine.

They are realities that Dee knows all too well. Her daughter, Nicole Oliver, was murdered by her abusive husband in 2007, and her daughter’s prophetic words give the report its title: “He wants to see me dead.”

“It’s what she had told me,” Dee of Kennebunk said after the press conference, which marked the release of the latest report from the Maine Domestic Abuse Homicide Review Panel.

“I’m here today to support other women who need to leave abusive relationships,” she said.

Although the state’s crime rate continues to be one of the lowest in the nation, the domestic violence homicide rate is worryingly high, Maine Attorney General Janet Mills said.

Of the 31 homicides that occurred in Maine in 2008, 20 of them, or 65 percent, were related to domestic violence. Of the 25 homicides that happened in 2009, 10 of the victims, or 35 percent, were killed by family or household members.

“Domestic violence remains of highest priority,” Mills said. “Most of what we’ve done to date is to put a Band-Aid on the problem after it occurs ... we need to send the message that heroes don’t hit, that it’s cool to walk away.”

The homicide review panel was created by the Maine Legislature in 1997 to recommend to state and local agencies methods of improving the systems to protect domestic violence victims. Its members come from many different agencies and areas and include Bangor Police Chief Ron Gastia, Dr. Eric Brown of Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, and reporter and Bangor Daily News columnist Renee Ordway.

For the panel’s eighth report, members reviewed 17 domestic violence homicides from 2006 to 2008. Eight victims were women, eight were men, and one was a “self-defense” homicide committed by a domestic violence victim, which was not included in the report’s statistics. Of the 16 perpetrators, 15 were men, and just one was a woman. Ten of the cases reviewed involved intimate partner relationships, and seven of those were in the process of leaving the relationship before being killed.

Some of the panel’s recommendations and observations include:

ä Recognizing that alcohol use is a risk factor for the escalation of violence and abuse.

ä Observing that there is no “causal link” between domestic violence and mental illness.

ä Realizing that law enforcement and other professionals who have repeated contact with a single victim may experience “compassion fatigue,” which can affect their judgment.

During her remarks, Mills stressed some things she has learned in her 34 years of practicing law and from the report — including her strong belief that protection from abuse orders save lives and her conviction that anyone leaving a relationship should never return alone to the estranged partner.

Not even to pick up their belongings, Mills said.

“Even the most intelligent and nice people can turn violent in a breakup,” she said. “Three people died that way, in the cases this panel reviewed.”

Naomi Schalit, executive director of the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence, said in a prepared response to the release of the report that Mainers need to move beyond “counting the dead” and making recommendations about patterns found within those deaths.

“What we really need to do is prevent these victims from ever getting to the point where they’re in deadly danger,” she said. “We’ve got to move upstream, and work with children so that they form healthy relationships from the beginning ... we’ve got to move upstream and provide options besides violence.”

Dee said that abuse prevention could start within the school systems, long before it escalates, as it did for her daughter.

“I think that there are a lot of people that are unaware of the services available,” she said. “She did do everything she could to protect herself. It was too little, too late for her.”

Maine’s free, confidential 24-hour domestic abuse hot line may be reached at 866-834-4357.

Article: Domestic violence cases on rise in Iowa

Associated Press

11:59 AM CST, January 28, 2010


The Iowa Department of Public Health is reporting the number of people killed in fits of domestic violence is growing, along with the number of cases.

The health department's biennial report shows Iowa averaged about 15 deaths per year between 2005 and 2009 from domestic violence, compared to about 12 per year between 1995 and 2004.

The report indicates women are the primary victims of homicide, with men responsible for deaths in nearly 94 percent of the cases.

The most common factor in the murders was the victim was trying to end the relationship with the perpetrator. Drug and alcohol abuse is another common factor.

Health department official Binnie LeHew says in almost half the cases, the perpetrator of violence had previously threatened murder or suicide. He says such threats should be taken seriously.

Olathe, KS: Man found guilty in 2006 Olathe murder

The Kansas City Star
Natasha Crump died at age 20, strangled in a locked bedroom of an Olathe apartment four years ago.

The father of her child admitted he slept there on a couch that night. Scratches were on him, and his DNA was under Crump’s fingernails and on her body.

Even the defense lawyer said at trial Thursday that it looked like Jose Solis, 27, did it, but he also told jurors that was not enough to convict. Another jury two years ago could not reach a verdict.

This one deliberated two hours Thursday before finding Solis guilty of first-degree murder.

Crump died in the late evening of Dec. 22, 2006, or the early morning of Dec. 23, 2006. She had broken up with Solis and moved to Ottawa, Kan. But she worked at a restaurant in Olathe, so she and their 20-month old daughter stayed with Solis that evening and night.

Solis told police that he and Crump had consensual sex and then Crump became angry when she thought he got a phone call from another woman. She scratched him, but he left to cool off and later returned and slept on the couch, he said. He opened the locked bedroom door the next morning, found her dead and called 911, he told police.

Assistant prosecutor Chris McMullin told jurors, “The idea that someone other than Jose Solis committed this crime is preposterous.”

Solis likely came home drunk and found a Christmas card from Crump’s new boyfriend and attacked her, McMullin said.

“Look at these pictures — he’s got scratch marks all over his body.”

He strangled her for at least six minutes to kill, McMullin said, making the crime premeditated first-degree murder.

Defense lawyer Zane Todd said there was no planning involved.

“If you’re going to kill someone, you get a weapon,” he said, “and you don’t do it in your own bedroom.”

Solis and Crump each had been seeing others and jealousy would not have been a motive, he said.

Johnson County District Judge Peter Ruddick will sentence Solis later.

Virginia Beach, VA: Man convicted of two counts of murder in Beach

VIRGINIA BEACH Jerome Usher was convicted today of two counts of first degree murder in the deaths of his girlfriend and a male acquaintance.

Jurors took less than three hours to determine Usher had planned the Nov. 4, 2007, killings of Brenda Gregory Burnett and James Vass at a townhome on Pollypine Drive.

Defense attorneys had argued for a lesser charge by contending Usher acted on an impulse because he suspected Vass and Burnett of having a relationship.

Prosecutors argued that Usher waited in his pickup outside the townhouse for Burnett to come home. When she arrived with Vass, Usher slipped a knife inside his jacket pocket and accompanied them inside, where he carried out his plan to stab them to death. The sentencing phase of the trial is set to continue through this afternoon. Usher, 46, faces up to life in prison for first degree murder.

Colorado Springs, CO: Victim's ex-wife, son plead for leniency for accused killer

January 28, 2010 4:49 PM
The son and ex-wife of a man shot to death last June in Palmer Park are asking for leniency for the 15-year-old girl accused of killing him.

Michelle Hazard Henderson said Thursday the girl should be considered a victim, too, because she was sexually molested for three years by Jon Hazard.

“She isn’t a cold-blooded killer,” Henderson said of the girl. “She was abused pretty bad by him.”

Henderson and the couple’s oldest son sent letters to the 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office asking that prosecutors seek counseling for her instead of time behind bars.

“We both came to the conclusion that somehow it was self-defense and she did what she needed to do,” she said. “We forgive her.”

The Gazette, which does not normally identify victims of sexual assault, is withholding the girl’s identity.

Hazard, 43, was found shot to death in his car at a picnic area in Palmer Park on June 1 — just a few days before he was set to stand trial for repeatedly sexually assaulting the 15-year-old. On his home computer, investigators found sexually explicit images of the girl.

The girl was arrested July 13 and her case remains in juvenile court, where she has had several hearings. Prosecutors have held off making a decision on whether to charge her as an adult while she has undergone psychological evaluations. Both sides have said they hope to have a disposition of the case in March. Meanwhile, the girl has been transferred to a residential treatment center in Denver.

Henderson said Hazard had a long-time addiction to child pornography and she divorced him in 2001 when she found out. She has since remarried and moved to Texas with their two sons, now ages 13 and 11. Hazard told her he had gotten treatment and had been cured. Believing him, she let her sons spend time with him in Colorado.

But her suspicions returned when she met the girl about a year before her ex-husband was killed when she accompanied Hazard on a trip to Texas to drop the sons off.

“I’ve had periods where I felt guilty because I could have done something,” she said. “I couldn’t have been the only one who suspected that something was going on. Somebody should have blown the whistle on this. Somebody should have stepped up.”

She said that she and her sons were shocked when they found out what happened to Hazard. She said the boys have been dealing with it, but they’re ashamed of what he was accused of doing. When asked, they tell their friends that their father died in Iraq.

Gazette reporter John Ensslin contributed to this story.

Waco, TX: Woman Gets 29 Years For Killing Ex-Boyfriend

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Carl Jackson was calm during the 911 call. He told the operator that he tried to leave during a fight with his ex-girlfriend, Michelle Rae Wilson, at his house. (File)
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The woman who shot and killed her ex-boyfriend, while he was making a 911 call, has been sentenced to 29 years and two months in prison.

Michelle Rae Wilson, 47, of St. Paul, was sentenced Thursday in the Jan. 13, 2008 death of 33-year-old Carl Jackson.

Jackson was calm during the 911 call to report that he tried to leave during a fight with his ex-girlfriend at his house.

While on the line, he tells the operator that his ex-girlfriend was hitting him.

"My ex-friend is here beating me upside my head," Jackson said during the call. "I'm trying not to hit her so I'm trying to get out the house."

The ex-girlfriend can be heard screaming about him hitting her while he tells the operator that he is still on the line.

A few seconds later, gunshots and yelling are heard. The phone goes silent as the operator repeatedly asks if he is there.

Wilson was convicted of intentional second-degree murder on Dec. 16, 2009. Police said she was mad because Jackson broke up with her.

West Palm Beach, FL: Man fatally shoots wife, kills himself

The Associated Press

A West Palm Beach man fatally shot his estranged wife and then killed himself.
The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office reports that 36-year-old Gary Jean Pierre got into an argument with 26-year-old Monette Dubuisson at her apartment, where he also used to live, on Wednesday afternoon. At some point, Pierre pulled a gun and shot her. Dubuisson's sister, who was at the apartment in another room, heard the noise and walked into the room just in time to see Pierre shoot himself.

Pierre had a 7-year-old boy, and Dubuisson had a 9-year-old girl. Both children lived at the apartment but were at school when the shooting occurred.

Cincinnati, OH: Woman Found Guilty In Stabbing Of Ex-Boyfriend

Last Update: 6:43 am
Woman Found Guilty In Stabbing Of Ex-Boyfriend

CINCINNATI -- A Franklin woman is heading to prison for the stabbing death of her ex-boyfriend.

Late Thursday night, a jury found Shannon Smith guilty of voluntary manslaughter and tampering with evidence.

Smith was charged with stabbing and killing her ex-boyfriend, Robert Takach, who died in a fight last January.

Jurors found her not guilty of felony murder, a more serious crime than voluntary manslaughter.

Smith faces up to 10 years in prison.

A date for her sentencing has not yet been released.

Meridian, ID: Elderly couple found dead in Meridian home

Associated Press - January 28, 2010 5:54 PM ET

MERIDIAN, Idaho (AP) - Meridian police are investigating what appears to be a murder-suicide involving an elderly couple.

A 91-year-old man and a 75-year-old woman were found about 10:40 a.m. Thursday by police making a welfare check at a residence in a senior living community.

Police have not released their names.

Officers went to the home after getting a call from concerned relatives who had not heard from the couple for the past few days.

After entering the house, police say they found both dead from gunshot wounds in a bedroom.

Police say their preliminary investigation indicates the man shot the woman with a handgun and then turned the gun on himself. It appears there was some kind of struggle.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Chilton, WI: Search Warrants Show What Investigators are Looking for in Jaeger's Death

Updated: Jan 26, 2010 04:24 PM
By Molly Hendrickson

Investigators were out again Tuesday, searching the home of Roger Rosenthal after finding his live-in girlfriend's body in the woods of Manitowoc County.

"They were doing a search of the residence this morning, the victim's residence. We also have an investigator down in Fond du Lac at the coroner's office," Manitowoc County Sheriff Robert Hermann said.

Right now investigators are waiting for results from the autopsy of Michelle Jaeger. That autopsy was done around noon Tuesday.

Jaeger, 39, of Chilton, was missing for nearly two weeks until her body was found Sunday near Brillion in northern Manitowoc County.

Her longtime boyfriend is being held in the Manitowoc County jail on a felony charge of hiding a corpse.

Tuesday morning, Calumet County officials were at the home the couple shared on Diane Court in Chilton, executive more search warrants.

They wouldn't comment on what specifically they were looking for but said they hope to find more evidence to build their case.

Action 2 News obtained copies of the two search warrants already executed where police took Rosenthal's blue 2001 Pontiac van along with obtaining Jaeger's phone records.

The warrants give you a good idea of what police were looking for, listing things such as forensic evidence, blunt objects, other tools, and containers large enough to hold a human body.

They do say whatever they find should give them a clearer timeline of when Jaeger died.

"Along with other information we're going to obtain through our investigation, whether it be Internet records, phone records, we should be able to determine when that activity stopped," Sheriff Hermann said.

Rosenthal is expected to appear in Manitowoc County court Wednesday on that felony charge.

Investigators say more charges may come.

White Bear Lake, MN: Gordon Weaver retrial in wife's death in White Bear Lake opens

His attorney suggests judge consider lesser manslaughter
By Emily Gurnon
Updated: 01/25/2010 11:45:28 PM CST

Ten years after Jean Weaver died at her family's White Bear Lake home, her husband once again faces trial for murder.

Gordon Douglas Weaver, 52, was convicted in 2005 of his wife's death, but that conviction was thrown out by the state Court of Appeals.

Weaver's second trial started Monday in Ramsey County District Court with his defense attorney suggesting several "lesser" options than the two counts of second-degree murder he's charged with.

The case stems from the death of Jean Weaver on Oct. 16, 1999, after the couple had argued in the basement of their home.

Gordon Weaver pushed his wife with his forearm, defense attorney Joe Friedberg said Monday, causing her to fall backward, try to steady herself on a clothes-drying rack, then fall into a concrete laundry tub.

The fall caused a bad gash in her head. She fell unconscious to the floor.

Gordon Weaver checked for a pulse and breathing, but detected neither, Friedberg said. Believing he had killed her, he set the house on fire and ran out.

Jean Weaver, 40, was pronounced dead a half-hour later.

Prosecutors said Monday that Weaver both "forcefully assaulted" his wife and committed arson. A medical examiner will testify that Jean Weaver was alive and breathing when her husband poured accelerant and lit the blaze, said Assistant County Attorney Steve Pfaffe.

Pfaffe provided example upon example of Weaver's efforts to deceive investigators — from the first police interview on the day

his wife died to his faking his own death near Chicago. His whereabouts were unknown for the next four years until police found he had moved to a seaside town in Oregon and was living under a different name.
But the seeds of the Oct. 16 tragedy could be found in letters Gordon Weaver had stored in a file labeled "Jean," Pfaffe said.

The couple had been having marital trouble, Pfaffe said.

In a letter dated Sept. 17, 1999, a month before she died, Gordon Weaver had written a letter addressed to Jean in which he alluded to "vocalizing" a wish to do her harm "in a state of panic and desperation."

"Haven't you ever wanted to kill somebody?" he wrote in another letter. "Why didn't you? ... I could even think if you died tomorrow, my pain would be less."

Pfaffe said Jean Weaver told her family doctor that problems with her husband were causing her to suffer nausea and dry heaves.

"It sounded to the doctor like she wanted to obtain a divorce," Pfaffe said.

Prosecutors have charged Weaver with second-degree murder while committing an arson and second-degree murder while assaulting his wife.

The defense has asked that the trial be decided by the judge in the case, Salvador Rosas, rather than by a jury. Defense attorney Friedberg said Rosas should choose lesser options than murder in his verdict on Weaver.

"There is no question Mr. Weaver is guilty of arson," he said. But if the state can't prove that it was the fire that killed her, there can be no conviction on second-degree murder by arson.

As to the charge that Weaver killed his wife during third-degree assault, that would require intent to harm her, Friedberg said. Weaver testified previously that he did not mean to hurt her.

The alternative, then, would be a first-degree or second-degree manslaughter charge — or acquittal, Friedberg said.

Opening the testimony Monday was Jean Weaver's oldest sister, Kathy Rysgaard.

Rysgaard said that on the day Jean Weaver died, she was scheduled to ride with Rysgaard and her husband to a family cabin for the weekend.

When she didn't show, the Rysgaards drove to the Weaver house at 1989 Oak Knoll Drive.

"Her car was in the garage," she said. "The picture window was black. The front door was black. I knew something was wrong."

Emily Gurnon can be reached at 651-228-5522.

Jefferson City, MO: Missouri Supreme Court overturns Lyons' death sentence, upholds Deck's

In separate case, judges split on how to handle reviews.

David A. Lieb
The Associated Press

Jefferson City -- The Missouri Supreme Court on Tuesday overturned the death sentence of a man it determined was mentally disabled. But judges revealed they are split on how to decide whether death sentences are appropriate.

The high court unanimously overturned the death sentence of Andrew Lyons for the 1992 slaying of his estranged girlfriend in southeast Missouri after concluding he was ineligible for execution because he is mentally disabled.

In a separate case, the court unanimously upheld the death sentence of Carmen Deck for the double murder of an eastern Missouri couple in 1996. But in doing so, the seven-member court issued three separate opinions as to how it should review whether the death sentence is an appropriate punishment for a crime.

In Lyons' case, the Missouri court pointed to a 2002 U.S. Supreme Court ruling barring the mentally disabled from being executed. The state Supreme Court affirmed the recommendations of a special master it had appointed to determine Lyons' mental capacity. It concluded he had an IQ in the range of 61-70 -- just below what it said was the threshold for significantly below-average intelligence.

The court reduced Lyons' sentence to life in prison for the slaying of his estranged girlfriend, Bridgette Harris, of Cape Girardeau. It was the second reprieve Lyons has received.

In 2007, the Missouri Supreme Court reduced Lyons' death sentence to life in prison for the slaying of Harris' mother, Evelyn Sparks, because the original sentence had been imposed by a judge after a jury deadlocked on the punishment.

Lyons also had been sentenced to seven years in prison for killing his 11-month-old son, Dontay Harris. That sentence was not overturned.

Deck was convicted of murder and sentenced to death for the fatal shootings of James and Zelma Long during a robbery of their home near De Soto. His two death sentences were twice overturned -- most recently by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2005 because he had been shackled in the presence of jurors. But at a third re-sentencing hearing, Deck again received two death sentences.

The Missouri Supreme court upheld those sentences Tuesday. But judges split over how to apply a more than 25-year-old state law requiring them to consider whether a death sentence is excessive or disproportionate to the penalty imposed in similar cases.

Judge Zel Fischer, who wrote the main opinion, said the "proportionality review is designed to prevent freakish and wanton application of the death penalty" and that judicial precedent only requires the court to make a comparison to other death penalty cases. Fischer was joined on that point by Chief Justice William Ray Price Jr. and Judge Mary Russell.

But Judge Laura Denvir Stith -- in an opinion joined by judges Richard Teitelman and Michael Wolff -- said state law requires the Supreme Court to also consider similar cases in which defendants received life sentences.

In a third opinion, Judge Patricia Breckenridge said she agreed with Fischer that the "proportionality review" is intended to correct only the most "aberrant death sentences" but agreed with Stith that the review also should consider cases involving life prison sentences.

Regardless of the review standard, all the judges said Deck's death sentence was appropriate.

Schenectady, NY: Dog Torture Case

Reported by: Paul Merrill
Videographer: J. Ficurelli
Last Update: 1/26 11:48 pm

Schenectady Police say that Thomas Hendricks II tortured and killed dogs during arguments with his wife.
Thomas Hendricks II hid his face as he left the Schenectady Police Department on Tuesday afternoon.

The 28-year-old Schenectady resident is accused of drowning one dog, torturing another, and beating a third.

Police say the animal abuse happened at the Front Street apartment that Hendricks shares with his 33-year-old wife.

Schenectady Police say they responded to a domestic incident at the apartment on Monday.

Police tell us that their investigation found that Hendricks had killed a dachshund named "Fudge" on Sunday by beating the dog with a pool cue.

Investigators presume the animal is dead but they haven't been able to find its body.

On or about January 12th, Hendricks allegedly tortured a toy poodle named "Carmella" by scalding her with hot water and pulling out her hair.

That dog is recovering with Hendricks's wife.

Court papers show that Hendricks is accused of killing another dachshund named "Beary" in December by holding the dog underwater and squeezing it.

Investigators removed that dog's body from 122 Front Street on Tuesday.

Schenectady Police say the animal abuse happened during domestic incidents.

Schenectady Police Sergeant Eric Clifford explains: "Arguments that began between the husband and wife and, ultimately, one of the animals suffered as a result."

They believe that Hendricks had been tormenting his wife by torturing and killing the dogs.

"We know by looking at this kind of behavior that these are the kind of people that go one to commit brutal attacks on humans," explains Dave Dean, a former police officer and current spokesman for the Schenectady County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Dean says he's glad that Buster's Law allows for a felony charge against Hendricks.

"Instead of a slap on the wrist, you're getting a jail door slamming," Dean says.

Other residents on Front Street tell us they like their neighborhood with the exception of a few households.

"They ruin the whole neighborhood," says Brett Lauren-Kennedy. "They bring the whole quality of life down here and it is a shame, absolutely, and it's a shame for those dogs."

Hendricks was released on bail on Tuesday night.

He tells us he didn't hurt any dogs.

Hendricks tells us that he feels like he's being villified as if he were Michael Vick.

He says he doesn't know what police removed from his home but it wasn't a dead dog.

"I seen it on tv," he tells us. "Walking out of my backyard with a blue pail? C'mon, I don't even know what the hell is in that pail! That's ridiculous! My dog is in that house so any other thing else? I'm telling you: it's a lie."

Lockport, NY: Falls man gets 25 years to life for murdering wife

By Thomas J. Prohaska and Nancy A. Fischer
Updated: January 27, 2010, 12:03 am / 1 comment
Published: January 26, 2010, 5:15 pm

LOCKPORT — A Niagara Falls man convicted of the brutal murder of his wife in their apartment last year was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison Tuesday by Niagara County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III.

But that doesn't end the case.

Defense attorney Michael W. McNelis filed a motion for a new trial, saying another man has confessed to the murder.

Murphy pronounced himself "very skeptical" of the defense claim, while Assistant District Attorney Lisa M. Baehre deemed it inadmissible hearsay. Nonetheless, Murphy scheduled a Feb. 17 hearing on the defense motion.

Robert E. Johnson, 27, was found guilty Oct. 5 of stabbing his wife of four years, Ahkenya Johnson, 32, in their Jordan Gardens apartment Jan. 17, 2009.

Baehre reminded the judge that the woman's throat was cut "from ear to ear" and she was nearly decapitated. She also said that Ahkenya was stabbed 49 times and three knife blades were snapped off in the victim's body.

"One knife was not enough to demonstrate his hate and rage for his wife," Baehre said. "It was a morbid work of art ... and he was not going to stop until she had paid for four years of not loving him."

Johnson didn't speak on the advice of his attorney, because of the pending motion and a likely appeal if Murphy refuses a new trial. He stared straight ahead as Ahkenya's sister, Africa Olds, called him a "monster." But he choked up as he signed an order of protection barring him from ever seeing his children again.

Olds is raising Ahkenya's two daughters, ages 10 and 5, in Columbia, S.C.

"What do you say to a 5-year-old who asks when Mom is going to come back from heaven?" Olds asked. "[Johnson] does not deserve to start his life over again, because my sister will never have another breath."

The mothers of the defendant and the victim embraced both before and after court.

"I love these people. They are and always will be family," said Rosalind Russell of Buffalo, Johnson's mother, moments after kissing Brenda Betton, Ahkenya's mother, on the forehead.

After the sentencing, dozens gathered in the cold late this afternoon for a rally in front of Jordan Gardens in Niagara Falls, where Ahkenya was killed, to honor all victims of domestic violence, and silver and pink balloons "were released to heaven" in Ahkenya's memory.

"I think she's at peace now," said her friend Mae Smith.

Kim Davidson was among those who attended the rally. Her 18-year-old daughter, Kari Gorman, of Wilson was shot to death by an ex-boyfriend in July 2008.

"If Ahkenya and Kari were here today, they would ask us to take action so that no other young woman would have to suffer the horrific fate they needlessly endured," Davison said. "They would want us to teach other young men and women about this.

"Let's break the cycle of abuse," said Davidson, who encouraged more education for young people so that they can better recognize the warning signs of an abusive relationship.

Susan LaRose, Niagara County Domestic Violence advocate coordinator, said there were 3,900 reports of domestic violence last year in Niagara County, including three homicides. One, in Hartland, involved a male victim, a rarity, LaRose noted.

She also estimated that double the number of reported cases went unreported.

"Domestic violence is a crime and it affects everyone in the community," LaRose said.

Niagara Falls Police Superintendent John R. Chella said since that from June 2008 to June 2009, 37 percent of all felony assaults in the city involved domestic violence.

"That is too high," Chella said.

During the sentencing, McNelis, the defense lawyer, presented an affidavit signed last week by a Niagara County Jail inmate who claimed that he heard inmate Thomas Pryor say he killed Ahkenya Johnson.

McNelis, who argued during the trial that Robert Johnson was getting a haircut when his wife was killed, pointed to a mixture of DNA in the blood on Johnson's shoes, which McNelis said became bloodstained when Johnson returned home, found his wife's body and knelt beside it to see if she was breathing.

The DNA included readings that showed an unidentified third party.

The inmate who wrote the affidavit last week was Robert J. Thousand, of Rochester, who is charged in the murder of youth home counselor Renee C. Greco in Lockport in June.

McNelis said Thousand heard Pryor, who is no longer in custody, make the alleged admission around Thanksgiving.

McNelis said he first learned of this in December. He is representing Thousand's co-defendant in the Greco case, Anthony J. Allen. He said he insisted on a sworn statement, so Thousand wrote one last Thursday, had it notarized by a guard and gave it to Johnson.

"It would not have produced a new verdict at trial because it's hearsay," Baehre said. She also said the statements Thousand attributed to Pryor don't match the facts of the killing as shown in the trial.

McNelis also complained that Murphy had barred him from using text messages that he said Pryor had sent: "The woman is dead. Police are all over. We've got to get out of town."

Baehre said those messages were not sent by Thomas Pryor but by someone else, also named Pryor. She said Niagara Falls Detective Thomas Ewing had questioned Thomas Pryor about the case last summer.

Ewing was in the courtroom but declined to comment. He may be called to testify at the Feb. 17 hearing.

Phoenix, AZ: Ariz. man killed in police-involved shooting

Associated Press - January 27, 2010 6:04 AM ET

PHOENIX (AP) - Authorities say a suspect in a domestic violence incident was shot and killed after he pulled out a gun and two Phoenix police officers opened fire.

Sgt. Tommy Thompson says neither of the officers, both 35-years-old, were injured in the shooting Monday night.

According to Thompson, the officers were investigating a domestic violence situation when they spotted a 51-year-old man who turned out to be a suspect in the case. When the officers attempted to contact the man, he pulled out a gun and the officers shot him.

The man's name has not been released. The officers are b

Bloomington, IL: Judge: No sentence reduction for man who killed ex-girlfriend

By Edith Brady-Lunny | | Posted: Tuesday, January 26, 2010 12:50 pm |
BLOOMINGTON -- A judge rejected arguments Tuesday that the 53-year prison sentence for Dennis McMillian for the 2008 murder of Angel Neal is excessive and should be reduced.
Defense lawyer Ron Lewis said McMillian took steps to address his alcoholism and bipolar disorder but did not receive medication that could have altered the course of events in Neal's apartment in Normal on Aug. 28, 2008.
McMillian was involved in a treatment program and had asked to see a psychiatrist about medication days before Neal's death, said the public defender.
Lewis said McMillian told him Tuesday that after several months in prison, "he's doing the best he can."
First Assistant State's Attorney Kim Campbell told McLean County Judge Scott Drazewski that McMillian's mental health and family issues were taken into consideration at sentencing. She asked that the motion for a reduced sentence be denied.
Injured in the attack was Neal's son, now 17, who allegedly was cut across the chest by McMillian before the boy ran for help.
McMillian, 48, had been drinking the night he stabbed his 34-year-old former girlfriend more than 50 times during a disagreement over a phone call, according to prosecutors.
In his remarks denying the defense request, Drazewski said McMillian's bad choices contributed to Neal's death. McMillian chose to consume alcohol and violate an order of protection by being in Neal's home, said the judge.
McMillian will file an appeal, said Lewis.

Merced, CA: Shooting death of ex-girlfriend premeditated, prosecutors say

Jury hears opening statements in trial for 2007 slaying.

Jurors heard opening statements Tuesday in the trial of a 31-year-old convicted felon who allegedly murdered his ex-girlfriend for being involved with another man.
Atwater resident Jose Pena Zavala, 31, is accused of first-degree murder in the killing of 27-year-old Jennifer Hernandez in her 3104 Denver Ave. apartment in Merced. Police found her body Dec. 3, 2007.
Dressed in a tan blazer and teal dress shirt, Jose Blas Zavala sat expressionless, listening on headphones to a Spanish translator as a prosecutor showed jurors a series of lurid crime scene photographs of the victim.

The photos showed Hernandez lying dead on the floor of her apartment, one bullet wound to the back of her head, another on her back. Hernandez's body was found the same day Zavala was arrested.
During his opening statement Tuesday, Chief Deputy District Attorney Mark Bacciarini showed jurors a snippet of video taken while Zavala was being questioned by Merced police. During the video, Zavala appears to admit killing Hernandez, saying that he entered her apartment and brandished a gun.
On the video, Zavala was questioned by then-detective Rodney Court. Court, who is now a sergeant with the department, gave Zavala a fake gun during the video interview, asking the defendant about how the shooting happened.
Zavala went on to explain that the victim came out of the kitchen and yelled at him, asking the defendant where he'd placed their son, who wasn't in the room. Zavala said Hernandez then tried to grab at the gun, before being shot. "Did you want to kill her or scare her?" Court asked Zavala. Zavala, speaking in Spanish, replied that he had thought about killing her.
"This was deliberate, premeditated murder," Bacciarini told jurors.
Zavala's attorneys, deputy public defenders Paul Lyon and Chris Loethen, reserved their opening statement for later during the trial. Loethen declined comment Tuesday.
Zavala has entered a dual plea to the homicide charges -- not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity. If Zavala is found guilty, a second phase of the jury trial will take place to determine whether he was sane.
Jurors also heard Tuesday from Harry Markarian, a former Merced police detective who worked on the case. Markarian, who was one of the first detectives at the murder scene, said he found Hernandez's son, who was 2 years old at the time, sitting on the floor watching television -- his mother's dead body about 10 feet away.
According to police, on the day of the shooting Zavala was found by Merced County sheriff's deputies on a canal bank in Stevinson, pointing a gun to his head. After Zavala put the gun down, he allegedly told deputies that he'd shot his girlfriend.
He also provided the victim's Merced address to sheriff's deputies, according to investigators.
A report from the Merced Police Department indicates that Zavala had threatened to kill Hernandez less than three months before her death. He was arrested on charges of making criminal threats.
The charges against Zavala for making those threats were later reduced to misdemeanor charges in Merced County Superior Court -- a month before Hernandez was killed. Zavala pleaded no contest to the charges, was freed from jail with time served and was sentenced to 36 months probation.
Zavala also has a previous conviction for burglary.
If convicted in the current trial, Zavala faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Reporter Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or

Los Angeles, CA: California gold trader, employee to stand trial in stabbing death of trader's estranged wife

By Associated Press

6:42 PM PST, January 26, 2010

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A wealthy gold trader has been ordered to stand trial on charges of arranging to have his estranged wife stabbed to death in a Los Angeles parking lot in 2008.

A Superior Court judge found sufficient evidence on Tuesday for 46-year-old James Fayed and his employee, 49-year-old Jose Luis Moya, to stand trial on charges of murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

Fayed is accused of paying Moya about $25,000 to arrange the murder of his wife, Pamela Fayed, in a Century City parking lot.

Prosecutors say Pamela Fayed's killer made a getaway in an SUV rented to her husband.

Prosecutors have not yet decided whether to seek the death penalty for Fayed and Moya, who are scheduled for arraignment on Feb. 9.

Oakland, CA: Oakland man police say fatally shot girlfriend dies of self-inflicted wound

By Harry Harris and Sean Maher
Oakland Tribune
Posted: 01/26/2010 02:53:06 PM PST
Updated: 01/26/2010 03:23:29 PM PST

OAKLAND — A man police say shot and killed his girlfriend and then shot himself Friday died of his wounds Monday afternoon, investigators said.
Marlon King, 45, died at Highland Hospital around 5:30 p.m. Monday, police said. He had been hospitalized since shortly after killing his girlfriend, Aprile Moore, 46, inside the home they shared in the 2500 block of 67th Avenue, investigators added.
King committed the homicide-suicide after texting and calling friends and relatives about what he intended to do, investigators said.
Sgt. Mike Gantt said King had been fired from his warehouse job at a Hayward company earlier Friday after damaging a valuable piece of equipment.
Gantt said today that police have found a suicide note inside a notebook in the bedroom of the home where King and Moore were found.
Police said that Moore and King had been together at least three years but had a history of domestic violence problems and that officers had been at the house several times in the past.
Moore worked as a home care provider, police said. Word of memorial services for her was being kept private today.
Contact Harry Harris at and Sean Maher at

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Lubbock, TX: Man pleads guilty to killing ex-girlfriend

Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Story last updated at 1/26/2010 - 12:37 am
A man set to go before a jury of his peers for the murder of his ex-girlfriend opted instead to let a judge decide his fate.
Jesse Juan Herrera, 56, pleaded guilty Monday morning to killing 41-year-old Refugio Avalos Montez in December 2006.

364th District Judge Brad Underwood will set his punishment.
Testimony in the punishment phase began Monday afternoon before a courtroom full of Montez's sobbing relatives.
Junita Hernandez, Montez's daughter, cried as she spoke of her mother's tough love and humble nature.
"It's really hard to accept the fact that she's not here," Hernandez told the court. "It's devastating."
Hernandez broke down when Criminal District Attorney Matt Powell showed her a photograph and asked her to identify for the record her dead mother.
"How could you do that to my mom?" she yelled at Herrera. Other family members cried loudly and some exited the courtroom briefly to regain their composure.
Aurora Avalos, Montez's niece, said she drove Montez to a house to drop off a blanket, and the two drove past Herrera's house.
Avalos said he began chasing them in his car, eventually speeding ahead of them and boxing the women in. Montez got out of the car, as did Herrera, Avalos said.
Avalos said she watched as Herrera grabbed her aunt by the hair and hit her. She said the two disappeared behind the car before Herrera jumped in his car and fled.
Montez was gushing blood as she got into the car and Avalos grabbed Montez's phone and called 911. She watched in horror as her aunt collapsed.
Montez was taken to University Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.
Several police witnesses testified a murder weapon was never located, but autopsy photos showed Montez was stabbed with a sharp object, puncturing a lung, according to medical examiner Sridhar Natarajan.
Lubbock SWAT officers forced entry into Herrera's home and arrested him about 10 hours after the murder.
Testimony is expected to resume today.
To comment on this story: l 766-8704

Knoxville, TN: Wife Convicted of Killing Husband in Knoxville

Published: January 25, 2010
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Knox County jury on Monday convicted a woman of first-degree murder in the shooting death of her second husband.

Tennessee Woman Accused in Trail of Death (January 24, 2010)

The sequestered jury returned the verdict against the woman, Raynella Dossett Leath, 61, after about nine hours of deliberations over two days.

Ms. Dossett Leath, a retired nurse, was tried for a second time after a jury deadlocked last year.

She received an automatic life sentence and must serve 51 years before being eligible for parole.

Prosecutors said Ms. Dossett Leath shot her second husband, David Leath, 57, a retired barber, in their bedroom in March 2003. Ms. Dossett Leath claimed her husband killed himself, and her lawyer maintained she was not home when Mr. Leath was shot.

She is also charged with murder in the 1992 death of her first husband, Ed Dossett, a former Knox County prosecutor, and is awaiting trial in that case.

Investigators determined that three shots were fired from the revolver found near Mr. Leath’s body.

According to testimony during the trial, Mr. Leath was heavily impaired by drugs and died instantly when the fatal shot severed his brain stem.

The state contended that Ms. Dossett Leath missed on the first shot, hit with a second one, then placed the gun in his hand for a third shot to get gunshot residue on the hand. No evidence directly linked her to the crime.

In the other case, officials originally concluded Mr. Dossett had been knocked down by his cattle and ruled it an accidental death.

But an investigation into Mr. Leath’s death prompted the authorities to reopen the Dossett case.

A medical examiner testified that toxicology reports completed after Mr. Dossett’s autopsy and burial in 1992 indicated he might have died from an overdose of morphine.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Las Vegas, NV: Man who hid dead girlfriend under blankets from kids sentenced

By Cara McCoy (contact)
Monday, Jan. 25, 2010 | 12:33 p.m.

At the end of the school day on Oct. 24, 2005, Erika Fuentes-De-Espinal’s 7-year-old son told his teacher his mommy would never pick him up again. The second-grader said his mother was dead.

The next day, police learned that the boy’s mother’s live-in boyfriend, Mark Donaldson, had shot the 26-year-old woman to death about five days earlier, wrapped her in blankets and left her decomposing body in the bedroom. Meanwhile, Donaldson, the boy, the boy’s 3-year-old sister and six-week-old twin girls Donaldson fathered with Fuentes-De-Espinal continued to live in the home.

On Monday, Donaldson, 30, was sentenced to life in prison for his crimes. He said he was on drugs when he killed Fuentes-De-Espinal and was sorry for what happened.

“All I ever wanted to do was to be a good son and a good dad to my children,” he said. “Unfortunately, that changed the day I became addicted to methamphetamine. I was unable to think clearly and lost control of my actions.”

He apologized to Fuentes-De-Espinal’s family and said he was “incredibly remorseful” for his actions.

Donaldson pleaded guilty in November to first-degree murder as well as two counts of child abuse and neglect with substantial mental harm for keeping the children in the house with their dead mother.

Judge David Wall sentenced him to life in prison with parole eligibility after 20 years for her murder. He was sentenced to 20 years with parole eligibility after eight years on the two child abuse counts, which will run concurrently to each other but consecutively to the sentence on the murder charge.

The soonest he would be eligible for parole is 28 years.

“This case is among the most hideous of all the offenses that have ever come before me, either as an attorney or on the bench,” Wall said.

He told Donaldson not to construe his agreement to abide by the attorneys’ negotiations as mercy; rather, he said he wanted to keep the two children from having to testify at a trial.

Many of Fuentes-De-Espinal’s family members were in court for the sentencing. Eliazar Diaz addressed the judge on the family’s behalf.

“There is no forgiveness. It doesn’t matter what state of mind the individual was in, nothing is going to bring this girl back,” he said, adding that the family felt that a sentence of 20 years to life wasn’t justice.

“This man gets to see, breathe and eat every day, something that (Fuentes-De-Espinal) will never do again,” Diaz said. “There is no excuse for what this man has done.”

Donaldson’s attorney, James Ruggeroli, said negotiations in the case were extensive and that it took about two years to reach an agreement. He said his client had taken full responsibility for his actions.

“Judge, we are appearing before your honor with no defenses because there are none,” he said. He described Donaldson as “a man that was overtaken by drugs.”

Ruggeroli said he had considered pursuing an insanity defense but in having his client evaluated, had learned that Donaldson had been in what he described as a drug-induced psychosis. He said the influence of the drugs wasn’t a defense and, along with his apologies, offered his findings about the drugs to the family as a possible explanation for what had happened.

A report from the time of Donaldson’s arrest offers a glimpse into what led to the discovery of Fuentes-De-Espinal’s body.

After the boy told his teacher his mother was dead, a guidance counselor began making phone calls to various family members. An aunt was contacted and went to the apartment complex in the 8400 block of West Charleston Boulevard to check on Fuentes-De-Espinal.

When she arrived, her 3-year-old niece took her inside the bedroom where Fuentes-De-Espinal was lying on the floor, covered by blankets. Her aunt lifted the top blanket and saw her sister-in-law was dead.

The woman called police.

When investigators responded to the home, they found bloodstains throughout the bedroom. Fuentes-De-Espinal had trauma to her head and neck area.

Donaldson was taken from the apartment to the homicide bureau, where he was interviewed. He told police his relationship with Fuentes-De-Espinal had become increasingly violent since the birth of the twins. At one point, he told police, she beat him physically to the point of unconsciousness.

He said the two got into a fight and he became angry. The next night, Fuentes-De-Espinal came home late and he believed she was having an affair. He was still angry about their fight the day before, the arrest report says.

While Fuentes-De-Espinal was changing one of the babies’ diapers, Donaldson retrieved his gun from a closet and shot her in the head, according to the report.

When police interviewed the boy, he told them he saw his mother on the floor dead on the night of Oct. 20. He said he knew she was dead because he saw blood and she didn’t answer him when he spoke to her.

The girl, who was 3 at the time of her mother’s death, told police that Donaldson had told her to stay out of the bedroom where her mother was. She said her mother had died and had blood on her neck.

After the hearing, Ruggeroli said it was difficult to understand how the man he had known as his client the past several years could have done something so terrible.

“It’s a tragedy on both sides and nothing is going to heal their wounds,” he said.

White Center, WA: 8-year sentence in wheelchair-bound woman's death


A White Center man was charged with first-degree manslaughter in the death of his muscular dystrophy-stricken girlfriend has been sentenced to an eight-year prison term.

Peter E. Gullberg, 43, pleaded guilty to the charge in November, admitting to striking the woman during an argument.

Gullberg called 911 in April 2008 to report that his girlfriend, Stephanie Campeau, wasn't breathing at their 14th Avenue Southwest home. He told sheriff's deputies that he had struck her on both sides of the head with his hands during an argument, court documents say.

The couple had known each other for 12 years and lived together for the past six, according to court documents. They've dated off and on, and Gullberg was her paid caregiver.

In an interview with detectives, Gullberg said he and Campeau had been in a heated argument when he struck her.

"I finally snapped this morning," Gullberg said, according to court documents. "I did it, I did it."

He told detectives he'd lost patience with her during the past few months. After he struck her, he noticed a blood blister forming on her eye, but she asked him not to call 911 and went to sleep. When Gullberg realized she wasn't breathing and turning purple, he called police.

Campeau, 34, was taken to Harborview Medical Center, where she died the following day from brain injuries, court documents say.

Gullberg, who had no prior convictions but had been arrested before on suspicion of assaulting Campeau, was sentenced Friday by King County Superior Court Judge Michael Fox.

Levi Pulkkinen can be reached at 206-448-8348 or

Article: Domestic Violence Murders in Arkansas

Domestic Violence Murders in Arkansas
January 24, 9:09 PMFort Smith Gun Rights ExaminerSteve D. Jones

According to statistics from the Violence Policy Center, Arkansas has ranked in the top ten in 2006 and 2007 for number of women killed due to domestic violence (later stats not yet compiled). These women were killed by “intimate partners” such as husbands and boyfriends. In addition, black women are being killed by these men at an even more alarming rate, nearly three to one in relation to white women. What can we Arkansans do to help these women?
Agencies, both state and private, are already in place to aid these women. Services are provided to counsel them in recognizing the bad situation they are in and to help them better their lives. If a woman chooses to leave her spouse, shelter and food is available to them. However, protection from attack by these partners after they leave cannot be obtained around the clock.
Law enforcement agencies do their absolute best, but they are minutes away and are not required by law to provide protection. If a woman has left her spouse and is afraid for her life, she is on her own, as the Christina Springs case has shown. Organizations such as The Violence Policy Center provide no help, only attacking gun owners. They state in one of their publications, “For women in America, guns are not used to save lives, but to take them”. They have no valid answers to the question of how to protect these women, however.
Arkansas’s lawmakers should step forward and attack this problem. A woman who has a restraining order needs more than a piece of paper to protect her. If a woman can pass an instant background check, she should be able to obtain a free CHL (concealed handgun license) immediately, instead of waiting for 60–120 days. The state should provide vouchers for handgun and self-defense training from state-approved trainers. In addition, open carry should be legalized as it is in 43 other states in the country, allowing them to carry a firearm in the open for their self-defense.
The time has come in Arkansas to pull our collective heads out of the sand. These women need self-defense, and we are not providing it to them; in fact, we make it against the law for them to carry self-protection! Please call your legislator and talk to them about this as soon as possible.

Glenview, IL: Sword waving man shot and killed by sheriff's police

January 25, 8:39 AM
A north suburban man who sheriff's police say came at them with a sword has died after he was shot by police last night.
Dead is Arturas Kolgalvas, 39, of the 3200 block of West Parkway, in unincorporated Glenview.
Cook County Sheriff's police were called to the 12 Oaks apartment complex yesterday afternoon on a domestic complaint, according to a department news release.
The victim of the alleged domestic violence managed to get out of th apartment, but Kolgalvas barricaded himself inside and the hostage barricade team was called in.
After about an hour, police say Kolgalvas came out of the apartment waving a sword and "advanced on police in a threatening manner." He was shot by police once in the chest and died a short time later.
No one else was hurt in the incident.
As is protocol, the Illinois State Police Public Integrity Unit will investigate the shooting.

Richmond, VA: 3 bodies in Henrico fire were murder-suicide

Henrico firefighters spent most of Friday at a house in the 1700 block of Debbie Lane, where three bodies were found.
Published: January 25, 2010

RICHMOND, Va. -- The Richmond medical examiner's office today said the three people found dead in a burning house Friday in Henrico County weren't fire victims but the victims of a murder-suicide.
The office said Robert Ware and his son, Ashton Ware, were homicide victims, both killed by a single gunshot wound to the head, and Virginia Ware -- Robert's wife and Ashton's mother -- was a suicide victim, also killed by a gunshot wound to the head.
Henrico police spokesman Eric Owens this morning said the county fire marshall's office has determined that the fire was started in the central portion of the home.
"It appears the fire was started in an attempt to destroy the home," he said. "We are still awaiting official lab results to determine what if any material was used to accelerate the fire."
The three bodies were pulled out of their brick-and-frame ranch house in the 1700 block of Debbie Lane early Friday afternoon.
Neighbors saw the house on fire and called authorities at 8:18 a.m. Friday, and the first firefighters on scene found the bodies inside the burning house.
For more details on the victims, check back later today and and see tomorrow's Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Geronimo, OK: Mom's body found, Amber alert issued for daughter

The Associated Press
Monday, January 25, 2010; 1:47 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY -- A mother's body was found inside a camper in Oklahoma and authorities have issued an Amber alert for her missing 7-year-old daughter.

Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Jessica Brown said Monday that the girl, Aja (AY'-zhuh) Daniell Johnson, is believed to be with Lester William Hobbs. Brown says he is an ex-convict wanted for questioning in the woman's death.

Brown says Lester William Hobbs is the estranged husband of Tonya Hobbs, whose body was discovered inside a recreational vehicle late Sunday in Geronimo. Brown says the last time Lester Hobbs and the girl were seen was Saturday evening.

Lester Hobbs was last seen driving a 1992 Toyota Paseo with the Oklahoma license plate number 577-BPW.

Palmdale, CA: Palmdale gunman kills sister and ex-wife, then commmits suicide, authorities say

January 25, 2010 | 5:58 pm
Los Angeles County Sheriff's investigators say a Palmdale man killed his sister, then drove to his ex-wife's home and fatally shot her in front of their young child before fleeing and taking his own life Monday inside a truck on a Lancaster highway Monday.

The deadly rampage began around 7 a.m. and left detectives with three crime scenes in the Antelope Valley.

The 31-year-old gunman called his father about 7 a.m. Monday to inform him that he had killed his sister and intended to take his own life as well. The father, whom authorities declined to name, immediately dashed to a home in 38700 block of 31st Street East in Palmdale, where he found his 33-year-old daughter dead, investigators said.

About the same time, sheriff's deputies responded to 911 calls of shots fired in 45300 block of Beech Avenue in Lancaster. There, sheriff's deputies discovered the gunman's 34-year-old ex-wife with multiple gunshot wounds. She died of her wounds at the scene.

According to Sheriff's Lt. Pat Nelson, detectives subsequently learned that the man had shot his ex-wife in front of their daughter.

Deputies later found the gunman's body inside his sister's vehicle on Avenue E and Sierra Highway, Lancaster. He had apparently died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, detectives said.

Investigators are withholding the identities of the dead, pending notification of their extended families.

-- Richard Winton

Milwaukee, WI: Wauwatosa man sought in death of ex-girlfriend

Associated Press

7:05 PM CST, January 25, 2010


Police are seeking the public's help in searching for a Wauwatosa man wanted in the strangulation death of his former girlfriend.

Thirty-two-year-old Benjamin M. Germano was charged Monday with first-degree intentional homicide in the death of 24-year-old Sarah Rosio of Milwaukee. She had a child with him.

Her body was found Thursday in a storage unit in West Allis.

The Journal Sentinel reports that a court document filed Monday alleges Germano told friends he killed Rosio and then drove around with her body in his car for four days.

Court records show Germano has a history of alleged domestic violence, at least some of which involved Rosio.

Germano is a white male. Police say he may be driving a black, four-door 2001 Toyota Corolla with Wisconsin license plates 144 KJV.