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A Petaluma man was sentenced to 10 years in prison this afternoon for fatally shooting his wife in their home in 2010. Sonoma County Superior County Judge Julie Conger sentenced Kenneth Mullennix to six years for voluntary manslaughter and four years for use of a gun. Mullennix, 51, was convicted in Sonoma County Superior Court in May of voluntary manslaughter of his 36-year-old wife Buapha in a bedroom of their McNeil Avenue home on Jan. 9, 2010. She was shot once in the head.
He faced the maximum term of 21 years and eight months in prison sought by Deputy District Attorney Craig Brooks for manslaughter, use of a gun and possession of an assault weapon. Deputy Public Defender Jenny Andrews asked Conger to consider the six-year term, not the maximum 11 years, for the voluntary manslaughter. She argued during her closing argument at the trial that the slaying was in the heat of passion, and she asked the jury to consider voluntary and involuntary manslaughter.
The prosecution sought a first-degree murder conviction, claiming Mullennix planned to kill his wife for months because she was having an affair. Mullennix testified his wife of 15 years was verbally and physically abusive to him and the couple’s two daughters. Mullennix submitted a letter to the court but was “too choked-up” to make a statement, Andrews said. “I am profoundly sorry for what happened. I loved Bua very much and will never forgive myself for what I have done,” he said in his letter to the judge. “I cannot believe what happened that night and I still do not understand it,” he said. “I wish I had never owned a gun or taken a drink of alcohol. I never want to touch either as long as I live.”
Conger disagreed with statements in the pre-sentence report prepared by the county’s probation department. She said she did not find the slaying was planned or sophisticated. The judge noted Mullennix’s daughters Fon, now 20, and Fanta, now, 12, are supportive of their stepfather and want to remain in contact with him. Conger lifted a protective order prohibiting contact between Mullennix and his daughters, and she said it was admirable that Mullennix knows he has a lifelong commitment to his children and his wife’s family. “This was a tragedy for both sides,” Conger said.
Outside the courtroom Fon said she preferred a six-year term for the manslaughter. “He’s a good father. I know he is a good guy,” she said. Mullennix has 1,040 days credit for time served. Both Brooks and Andrews said he will serve about five and a half years in prison. “The judge and the jury both understood how tragic the circumstances were for the whole family. I appreciate they understood that,” Andrews said.
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