Man accused of killing girlfriend ends trial with plea
RENO (AP) ” A man accused of killing his South Shore musician girlfriend ended his trial in Washoe District Court with a plea that surprised both his attorney and the prosecution.
Denver Pullin, 44, who was charged with battering 42-year-old Laurie Jean Laurence and then shooting her three times in the head on Sept. 2, entered the no contest plea after a lunch break on Wednesday.
“It surprised me that it came up after we had begun the trial,” his attorney, Maizie Pusich said on Thursday. “I think he wanted to spare his family and the victim’s family from having to testify in court.”
Deputy District Attorney Bruce Hahn said there had been no plea negotiations.
“I had no hint this was even coming,” he said. “The state had gotten out quite a bit of evidence against him and there was more coming.”
Pullin faces sentencing Sept. 28 before District Judge Jerome Polaha.
Hahn said he would seek the maximum of two consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole. Pusich said she would argue issues that had not come up in court before Pullin entered his plea, including recent legislative changes in criminal enhancement laws.
Lawrence was a singer and bass player with the band Cool Black Kettle and performed at clubs in Reno, Lake Tahoe and the Bay area.
In her opening statement, Pusich said that before police arrived at the home Lawrence and Pullin shared, Pullin had called several friends and family members, leaving messages that said good-bye.
After Pullin was taken into custody, a blood test found “appreciable amounts of alcohol in his system,” Pusich said.
Police said they also found notes scribbled in colored markers on the walls inside the house saying “I’m so sorry,” and “I can’t believe I did it.”