The California Supreme Court refused Wednesday to review the case against a former Los Angeles Unified School District elementary school teacher convicted of the slashing murder of his estranged wife who had taken refuge at a friend’s home in West Hills.
Michael Rodney Kane was found guilty in March 2015 of first-degree murder for the June 15, 2013, stabbing death of his estranged wife, Michelle, 43.
Kane — who is serving a life prison term without the possibility of parole — was also convicted of making criminal threats and disobeying a protective order.
In July, a three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected the defense’s contention that insufficient evidence was presented to support the special circumstance of lying in wait.
In its 17-page ruling, the appellate court justices found that “substantial evidence supports a finding that defendant watched and waited for a substantial period of time before seizing the opportunity” to get past the husband of his wife’s friend and enter the home for the purpose of killing the victim. She had filed for divorce and obtained a temporary restraining order against him about two months earlier.
The appeals court panel noted that Kane’s estranged wife went to police after she tape-recorded her husband threatening her by saying, “The beast is hungry. He’s ready to feed. You’re not going to make it a week. Forget it, we’re not making it a week … I could snap any second. You ain’t got three days … Watch out for me … I’ll beat you up right here, I’m ready to feed.”
She returned to the police station a second time the day before she was killed to report that he had stopped by her work and violated a restraining order, according to the appellate court panel’s ruling.
Kane initially attacked his estranged wife after getting inside the friend’s house, then stabbed her repeatedly after she fled from the house, the justices noted.
He was arrested two days after the killing, shortly after his abandoned vehicle was spotted by San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies in the Joshua Tree area. He was found during a search of area motels.
Kane started as a substitute teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District in 1997, followed by three permanent teaching assignments, the last of which was at Nestle Avenue Charter Elementary in Tarzana.
–City News Service