The estranged husband of a woman stabbed to death in her Santa Clarita area home pleaded no contest Monday to murder, attempted kidnapping, first-degree burglary, fleeing police and resisting arrest.
James Matthew Dorsey, 42, entered his plea in open court Monday during his first arraignment, roughly one month after his April 15 arrest. He did not negotiate a deal with prosecutors, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
Sentencing was set for June 21.
The stabbing occurred about 5:10 a.m. April 15 in the 22800 block of Fir Court, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Michelle Dorsey died at a hospital.
The victim is listed in the criminal complaint as Michelle D.
“Prior to dying, she identified her estranged husband, who we are naming as James Matthew Dorsey, as the person who stabbed her,” sheriff’s Lt. Barry Hall alleged.
Dorsey was arrested following an hourslong standoff with authorities in Gorman.
Dorsey, of Washington state, fled the area in his wife’s 2013 Chevrolet Malibu, which was spotted about 6 p.m. at 330th Street West and Alamo Pump Drive near Gorman, according to sheriff’s officials. He was believed to be armed with a large knife and barricaded himself in the car, which was surrounded by law enforcement officers.
The barricade concluded peacefully about 10:10 p.m. after “many verbal attempts” by Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station deputies and crisis negotiators to persuade the suspect to surrender.
Two of the couple’s three sons were asleep in the victim’s home at the time of the attack, according to broadcast reports. The third boy was staying overnight at a friend’s house.
“The information we have right now is that he’s not even living in the state, and they were certainly estranged, he’s not even welcome at the house — he probably forced his way through the door at the back,” Hall said shortly after the attack.
Sheriff’s Lt. Barry Hall, a homicide investigator, told CBS2 that “investigators that are handling it recovered zip ties and duct tape and clearly, those items were meant to perform a kidnapping, then murder.”
Hall told a CBS2 reporter that he was outraged that the District Attorney’s Office didn’t file sentencing enhancements including lying in wait and murder committed in the course of a kidnapping.
District Attorney George Gascón has instituted a policy of only filing enhancements in cases his office deems to be the most heinous, including crimes against children and the elderly.
A longtime friend of the victim told CBS2 the couple was going through a very bad divorce.
“That man, he knew what he was doing. He threatened before, he scared her before,” Danielle Quemuel said. “We lost an amazing person and we can’t get her back.”
The victim filed a temporary restraining order against her husband when they separated in 2019 and investigators believe she was planning to refile that paperwork, according to the Santa Clarita Valley Signal.
A GoFundMe page was established for the victim’s three sons. As of Monday afternoon, $100,115 had been raised from 929 donors toward a goal that was first set at $25,000 and later raised to $100,000.