Prentis John Hill. Courtesy Santa Ana Police Department.
Prentis John Hill. Courtesy Santa Ana Police Department.

A 39-year-old Santa Ana artist was charged Tuesday with killing his live-in girlfriend.

Prentis John Hill could face up to 26 years to life in prison if convicted of murder, with a sentencing enhancement allegation for the personal use of a deadly weapon.

Police responded to a domestic violence call at the apartment the defendant shared with Shannon Pearce Likens at 316 W. Fourth St. just after 11:30 a.m., Saturday, said Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna.

When police arrived at the apartment complex catering to artists, no one answered the door at the couple’s unit. Neighbors reported a loud conflict and said the suspect fled the building before the officers’ arrival, Bertagna said. Police found the 38-year-old mother of three on the floor, bleeding, but have not disclosed the cause of her death.

Police caught up with Hill about 7 p.m. Saturday when he walked into the emergency room at College Hospital in Costa Mesa, Bertagna said.

The victim had a history of suicide attempts and drug and alcohol abuse, according to court filings by her ex-husband.

In September 2013, James Robert “Bob” Likens IV filed for a temporary restraining order against his then-estranged wife, in which he described a chaotic scene in which she tried to pull their toddler child from his arms, ultimately triggering a call to the police.

He alleged that his spouse had “a history of mental problems, and a problem with prescription pills,” and had to be hospitalized for psychiatric reasons multiple times.

She had a supervised visit with their son and daughters, who are now 8, 6 and 2, respectively, on Christmas Eve last year, he said in April, but had not requested another visit since.

The ex-spouse added in that court filing that his ex-wife’s “current boyfriend sent a video … showing her clearly impaired in the middle of the day and unable to care for herself, let alone three children.”

Likens told City News Service that he was married to the victim for 18 years and that her mental health problems could be traced back to a miscarriage of twins. But she was trying to turn her life around at the time of her death, he said.

“It sounds like she was doing better. She got an apartment and a job and she was on the up and up,” he said, adding that she was back on speaking terms with her family and brought Hill with her to a family Thanksgiving dinner.

“She was asking about the kids. That was a positive,” he said.

Likens said his ex-wife was such a talented saleswoman that Mercedes- Benz moved her family across the country to New Jersey so she could work at the then-number one dealership in the country  some years ago.

“They gave us a condo on the beach, a new car and kept us out there for awhile,” he said. “She was very, very smart.”

But when she got pregnant with twins and lost them ,she grew despondent, her ex-husband said.

“She got depressed, got some medication for it and it kind of went downhill from there,” he said.

Likens broke the bad news to their children on Monday night.

“It’s going to take some time to see how they’re handling it,” he said. “The 6-year-old cried and got upset and the 8-year-old tried to comfort his little sister, patting her on the back.”

–City News Service

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