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Mental Illness Blamed in 2003 Stabbing Death

A woman wounded her boyfriend and killed his son, then fled, leaving a 3-mile trail of blood in Mission Viejo. Defense sets tactics as trial opens.

November 18, 2005|Claire Luna | Times Staff Writer

The stabbing death of his 13-year-old son showed Jean-Marc Weber in the most tragic of ways the truth in the proverb "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned," an Orange County prosecutor told jurors Thursday.

Weber's former girlfriend is on trial in a Santa Ana courtroom on charges of attempting to murder him and stabbing his son to death. She left a three-mile trail of blood from the Webers' Mission Viejo home.

Weber, a well-known chef, survived but wasn't present as attorneys recounted that violent summer night in opening statements Thursday.

The prosecution's case focused on Weber's tumultuous relationship with Tamara Kay Bohler, now 46.

"The evidence will show this is a case about a woman scorned," Deputy Dist. Atty. Mike Murray told jurors on the trial's opening day.

Bohler's lawyer, Deputy Public Defender Shelly Aronson, conceded that Bohler stabbed Weber and killed his son, Alex. But she urged jurors to consider her client's alleged schizophrenia and paranoid delusions in deciding whether she intended to kill the Webers.

"The issue in this case is: What's her state of mind?" Aronson said during her opening statement.

Bohler faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole if she is convicted of murder, attempted murder and the special circumstance of lying in wait.

The stabbings -- on July 4, 2003 -- followed more than three years of on-again, off-again dating between Bohler and the French-born Weber, who has worked as executive chef at the California Club, a private social establishment in downtown Los Angeles, and Hotel Le Meridien (now Sutton Place Hotel) in Newport Beach, among others.

Murray said Bohler had a history of violent behavior. She once smashed a vase against a wall after an argument and shattered the potted plants outside Weber's front door when he refused to let her in, the prosecutor said.

In another incident, Murray said, Weber called police when Bohler tried to punch Alex. Bohler left and was later arrested and convicted of drunk driving. The conviction led to her losing custody of her son to her former husband.

Bohler blamed Weber for the loss of her son, Murray said. Her anger simmered until July 3, 2003, when Weber told her they would never have a committed relationship because his family hated her, the prosecutor said. Nonetheless, Bohler slept over.

In the early hours of July 4, after Weber and his son went to sleep, Bohler stabbed Weber in the neck with a 10-inch kitchen knife, Murray said.

They grappled, and Weber got the knife away from her. She pushed him down the stairs and Weber crawled out the front door and begged a neighbor to call police.

Bohler then went to the kitchen for another knife. She went to Alex's room and stabbed him several times in the back through his sheet and blanket. His body was found collapsed just outside his room.

Bohler, who had been naked during the attacks, then dressed in a black nightgown and sweater and wandered for 30 hours before police found her.

Contradicting the defense's claim that Bohler didn't recall the attacks, Murray said that, when police told her she was under arrest on suspicion of murder and attempted murder, she asked, "Which one survived?"

Defense attorney Aronson maintained that Bohler had a history of mental illness: borderline personality disorder, severe paranoia, post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms and at least three sisters diagnosed with mental illnesses.

The trial resumes Nov. 28, and Weber is expected to testify.

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