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Murder Trial Begins for Woman Who Changed to Insanity Plea

Attorney admits that the Mission Viejo resident attacked her boyfriend and killed his son but asks jurors to consider her mental state.

October 11, 2006|Mai Tran | Times Staff Writer

A Mission Viejo woman accused of seriously injuring her on-again, off-again boyfriend by slitting his throat and then killing his teenage son did so in retaliation, a prosecutor said during opening statements at her trial Tuesday.

It's the second time Tamara Bohler, 47, has been on trial for the attempted murder of well-known Los Angeles chef Jean-Marc Weber and the murder of his 13-year-old son, Alex. The first trial began in November but was abruptly canceled when Bohler changed her not-guilty plea to not guilty by reason of insanity.

During Tuesday's hearing in Santa Ana, Deputy Dist. Atty. Mike Murray told the nine-man, three-woman jury that Bohler was vindictive. "There's a clear motive why she did it," Murray said. "She feels that he caused all of the problems in her life."

In August 2000, Weber had called police after Bohler allegedly hit Alex and refused to leave his house. Officers later found her in a car and arrested her for drunk driving, an incident that eventually resulted in the loss of custody of a son she had with an ex-husband.

After that dispute, Bohler and Weber's relationship worsened, a development she blamed on Alex, Murray said.

Public Defender Shelly Aronson said there was no doubt that Bohler committed the crimes, but urged the jury to consider her mental state.

She suffered from paranoia, mental illness, stress, alcoholism, anxiety and other problems partially fueled by her "dysfunctional relationship" with Weber, the attorney said.

"There's no motive for her to attack Alex," Aronson said. "There isn't a question in this case that she attacked Jean-Marc and killed Alex. You need to listen to see what was in her mind. Make your decision on her mental state."

The first witness was Weber, who testified that on the night of July 4, 2000, he was in a deep sleep at his Mission Viejo condo when he awoke to a "strange sensation on my throat."

Feeling "a lot of heat on my throat," he said, he catapulted out of bed to the bathroom, where he discovered his throat had been slit.

"Blood was spraying like a hose on the mirror," he recalled, holding the right side of his throat with his hand.

He said Bohler, who didn't live with him but had spent the night, stood by the bed and asked if he was all right before lunging at him with a knife.

"I've got nothing to lose," he recalled her saying. "You've taken everything away from me."

Holding his neck with one arm as he spoke, he said he tried to push her away as she continued to stab him in the arms, chest and face. After he took the knife away, he said, she pushed him down the stairs.

"She came behind me with all her might like a linebacker, and I went flying down the stairs," Weber said.

While he ran to get help from a neighbor, Bohler grabbed another kitchen knife and fatally stabbed Alex through his sheet and blanket, prosecutors said. He was found collapsed just outside his room.

Bohler, who was naked during the attacks, then dressed in a black nightgown and sweater, wandering for 30 hours before being found by police.

Murray said Bohler was aware of what she'd done. When police told her she was arrested on suspicion of murder, he said, she asked, "Which one survived?"

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mai.tran@latimes.com

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