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A Sonoma County jury this afternoon convicted a Petaluma man of voluntary manslaughter for killing his wife in 2010. Kenneth Mullennix, 52, was charged with fatally shooting his wife Buapha in a bedroom of their McNeil Avenue home in Petaluma on Jan. 9, 2010. The prosecution sought a first-degree murder conviction, claiming Mullennix planned to kill his wife for months because she was having an affair.
Mullennix’s defense attorney Jenny Andrews asked the panel to reject first- and second-degree murder and consider voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. Jurors outside the courtroom this afternoon said they quickly rejected first-degree murder and were split 7-5 in favor of second-degree murder instead of voluntary manslaughter.
The panel unanimously agreed on voluntary manslaughter after lunch, juror Danielle Brusnahan of Santa Rosa said. Jurors said they rejected first- and second-degree murder because they could not rule out the possibility Mullennix snapped and killed his wife in the heat of passion, shooting her once in the right eye with a Glock semi-automatic handgun within three feet of her.
Jurors also said they considered Mullennix’s state of mind and the fact he was intoxicated at the time of the 10 p.m. slaying. Juror Michael Harvey of Sebastopol said he felt Mullennix was provoked by his wife. “I consider 15 years of domestic violence and six months of an affair provocation” Harvey said. Mullennix testified his wife of 15 years was abusive and threatening to him and the couple’s two daughters.
He said she was armed with a handgun and threatened to kill him and their children in the bedroom of their home that night. Jurors said there was no evidence Mullennix’s wife was armed when she was slain. Andrews said Mullennix faces between six and 21 years in prison for the slaying and personal use of a gun. A sentencing date will be set Tuesday.
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