Lady Justice 3 16-9

A 59-year-old Huntington Beach man who slashed his wife’s neck a few days before their first wedding anniversary in a botched murder-suicide was convicted Tuesday of first-degree murder.

Jurors, who rejected lesser charges of second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter, deliberated several hours before convicting Nelson Tuumamao Tuiolosega, who faces 26 years to life in prison.

Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 18.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Troy Pino praised Huntington Beach Police Detective Pat Ellis for putting “his heart and soul into this case.”

Tuiolosega’s attorney pushed for a voluntary manslaughter conviction, arguing that the victim relentlessly nagged the defendant until he “exploded” in a rage.

The defendant met 46-year-old Heather Rosa-Tuiolosega through a friend, and they began a long-distance romance, Pino said. They got married on Nov. 1, 2011, but the Hawaii native didn’t move in with the defendant until June of the following year, the prosecutor said.

Initially, the couple lived with her 20-year-old son, but the young man grew unhappy and shortly moved back to Hawaii, Pino said.

Police were called to the couple’s apartment at mid-morning on Oct. 29, 2012, where they found the victim’s bloodied body in bed under a blanket, Pino said. The defendant was next to her, bleeding from the abdomen.

“This morning, she said she didn’t want to be with me anymore,” Tuiolosega told police at the crime scene, according to Pino, who said the defendant added that he “cut her up.”

Tuiolosega told a friend two days before the killing: “If she ever leaves me I’ll kill her,” according to Pino.

The victim, meanwhile, told the friend who introduced her to the defendant that she informed him she wanted a divorce and that she was so afraid of her husband that she could not sleep at night, Pino said.

Tuiolosega called his sister the day of the killing to tell her he was going to commit suicide, according to Pino. He left a voicemail message for an estranged daughter, declaring he had killed his wife, and then he called another daughter to tell her his wife was dead and he was going to take his own life, the prosecutor said.

The defendant also called his adult son, who arrived at the crime scene before police and other first-responders and called 911, Pino said.

The defendant told his son, “Don’t look. I sliced her neck … It’s really bad,” Pino said.

Tuiolosega’s attorney, Sara Nakada of the Orange County Public Defender’s Office, said her client did not want to kill the victim.

“It was himself he wanted to kill,” she said. “This man is about three things: God, family and work.”

In the weeks leading up to the victim’s death, she “unleashed a pernicious … attack” on the defendant and “was constantly upset with him,” Nakada said. As she “excoriated him every day,” the defendant worked hard to overcome his shortcomings, Nakada said. No matter how he responded, however, it infuriated his wife, she said.

“When she needed money, he worked extra shifts,” Nakada said. “She wanted to go to casinos, but, frankly, they didn’t have enough money for that kind of habit. He was stressed and depressed, but he kept holding it in until October 29th, when she unleashed that final verbal attack and he exploded.”

—City News Service

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