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Woman Sentenced in Murder of Husband

May 02, 1985|MARK ARAX | Times Staff Writer

PASADENA — A San Gabriel woman, convicted of first-degree murder in the June, 1983, shooting death of her husband, has been sentenced to 25 years to life in state prison.

Cheryl Lynn Sellers, a 26-year-old mother of two, received the prescribed sentence for first-degree murder Tuesday, three weeks after a jury found her guilty of premeditation in the slaying of her 52-year-old husband, Norman.

Pasadena Superior Court Judge Sally G. Disco did not impose an additional two-year sentence for the use of a handgun, citing Sellers' lack of a prior criminal conviction as a mitigating factor. But Disco rejected defense motions for lesser charges and for a new trial.

Appeal Planned

Deputy Public Defender Ronald Yorizane said he would appeal the case on factual grounds, arguing that the killing was not premeditated.

Sellers testified at her trial that she took a loaded .38-caliber handgun from a box in the living room during a heated argument in which her husband was taunting her as he lay in bed. Sellers testified that while her husband laughed at her and shouted abusively, she cocked the handgun and held it to his forehead for two minutes. Sellers said she then had second thoughts about pulling the trigger, and as she moved the handgun away, it accidentally discharged.

The jury rejected Sellers' contention that the shooting was an accident. Deputy Dist. Atty. Susan Wondries portrayed Sellers as a jealous woman who carefully plotted the murder of her husband when it became clear that their five-year marriage was at an end.

Wondries argued that five weeks before the slaying, Sellers purchased the handgun. Testimony revealed that Sellers had told a girlfriend that she would kill her husband if she ever caught him with another woman. No evidence of infidelity surfaced at the trial. After Sellers shot her husband once in the head, Wondries argued, she took his wallet and left their home in an attempt to establish an alibi and make his death appear to be a robbery-homicide.

Norman Sellers, a truck driver for Vons Grocery Co., who was not the father of Cheryl Sellers' two children, already had reached a financial settlement with his wife, and she was about to move into an apartment when he was murdered, Wondries said.

On the night of June 29, 1983, according to testimony, Norman Sellers went to visit his adult son from a previous marriage. When he did not return home for several hours, his wife drove to her stepson's home. Witnesses testified that Norman Sellers accused his wife of following him there out of mistrust and jealousy, and the couple began arguing.

Left to 'Cool Off'

They returned home together and resumed the argument, according to Cheryl Sellers. She testified that she then left their home, in an unincorporated area outside San Gabriel, to "cool off" and returned an hour later, only to have her husband begin taunting her as he lay in bed.

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