For release on July 24, 2012
James Leonard, Deputy District Attorney
A 27-year-old Virginia man was found guilty this week of the First-Degree Murder of his San Jose girlfriend. Last year, David Shackelford stabbed Melanie Dunn through her throat as her family slept in adjacent bedrooms. She had broken up with the parolee and asked him to move out of the home. Shackelford faces 25 years to life in prison, when he is sentenced on Sept. 14, 2012. “The tragedy of this is that this woman and her family tried to help this man, to get him a job and give him a place to stay,’’ said James Leonard, who prosecuted the case. “To thank them for their trouble, he killed her.” In 2011, there were 11 homicide victims of domestic violence in Santa Clara County. This year, so far, there have been four.
This domestic violence murder happened on Feb. 10, 2011, after a night of angry texts between Shackelford and Dunn, a popular 27-year-old former University of California, Berkeley student who was working as a waitress at a tony San Francisco hotel. When she arrived to her east San Jose home early that morning, Shackelford was waiting, with a filet knife in his hand and another one under the bed, investigators believe. Dunn’s parents and brother – who slept in bedrooms on either side of her - were awakened by banging on the wall. They burst into her bedroom to find her fatally wounded with the knife. A bloody Shackelford was in bed with her. The defendant fled, but was caught several blocks away and arrested by police. The defendant first told police that he had been in the bedroom when a distraught Dunn must have stabbed herself. During trial, Shackelford changed his story and said that he was arguing with a knife-wielding Dunn when she said something hurtful to him. He testified that he accidentally struck her hand, driving the knife into her throat. A medical examiner testified that the fatal wound could not have been caused by either suicide or accident. After the two-week trial, the jury convicted Shackelford after less than two hours of deliberations. ###