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Father of slaying suspect is accused of threatening the victim's friend

October 10, 2008|Christine Hanley | Times Staff Writer

The father of an Iraq war veteran accused of beating his girlfriend to death was arrested on suspicion of threatening one of the victim's friends during a courthouse confrontation.

Mike Needham Sr., 54, was arrested on suspicion of battery and threatening to terrorize the woman after a dispute Sept. 26 in a cafeteria at Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana, sheriff's spokesman Jim Amormino said.

Needham's attorney, Mark Gallagher, on Thursday denied the accusations. He said prosecutors investigating the case have yet to file any charges.

Needham was at the courthouse awaiting his son's arraignment in the slaying of Jacque Villagomez, an aspiring model who was found dead over Labor Day weekend in the San Clemente condo where she lived with the Needhams.

The arraignment was scheduled to be held early that morning but was delayed twice because sheriff's deputies, hampered by logistical problems, did not transport John Wylie Needham, 25, from the county jail to the courthouse until late afternoon.

At some point after the second delay, Mike Needham allegedly told a woman who showed up in support of Villagomez that he was going to kill her, Amormino said. When one of the woman's friends overheard the threat and tried to come to her aid, Needham pushed him, Amormino said.

After the father was taken into custody at the courthouse, his son, a decorated Army veteran, pleaded not guilty to the murder charge.

The elder Needham posted bond and was released the next morning.

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christine.hanley@latimes.com

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