A 27-year-old Virginia man was convicted of the 2011 murder of his San Jose ex-girlfriend on Monday. After a two-week trial and a brief two hours of deliberations, a jury convicted David Shackelford of first-degree murder for stabbing 27-year-old Melanie Dunn through the throat in her family’s home, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office said.
“The tragedy is that this woman and her family tried to help this man, to get him a job and give him a place to stay,” Deputy District Attorney James Leonard said. “To thank them for their trouble, he killed her,” Leonard said. Dunn, a former University of California at Berkeley student who was working as a waitress in an upscale San Francisco hotel, had broken up with Shackelford and asked him to move out.
But Shackelford was still there on the morning of February 10, 2011, waiting for her with a filet knife in his hand and another under the bed, according to prosecutors. That morning, Dunn’s parents and brother were awakened by banging on the wall. They entered Dunn’s bedroom to find her in bed with a fatal knife wound to her neck and a bloodstained Shackelford still in the room. Shackelford and Dunn had apparently been trading angry text messages all night, the district attorney’s office said.
According to prosecutors, Shackelford first told police that Dunn must have stabbed herself. During trial, Shackelford told another story, testifying that he had been arguing with Dunn, who had a knife, when he had accidentally struck her hand, driving the knife into her throat.
A medical examiner negated that testimony during trial however, testifying that the fatal wound Dunn suffered could not have been caused by suicide or accident, according to the district attorney’s office. Dunn’s murder was one of 11 domestic violence homicides in Santa Clara County in 2011. There have been four such homicides so far in 2012. Shackelford faces 25 years to life in prison and is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 14.
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