Navy veteran found guilty of manslaughter in girlfriend’s stabbing death
The Orange County Register March 18, 2023
(Tribune News Service) — An Anaheim man who killed his girlfriend in 2017 and unsuccessfully tried to persuade a police officer to shoot him was convicted this week of voluntary manslaughter after jurors rejected a murder charge.
Frank Moseley, a 34-year-old Iraq War veteran, admitted to stabbing Janessa Smith, 25, to death with a chef’s knife in the living room of an Anaheim apartment after, he said, she told him she was having an affair and may have been pregnant by the other man.
Moseley, who was 27 at the time of the killing, said he “lost it” after hearing about the affair and “saw red” before picking up the knife and stabbing Smith more than a dozen times. Moseley admitted to setting small fires in the apartment to kill himself through smoke inhalation, but later told investigators that he changed his mind after hearing the cries of the couple’s toddler.
With the young child in tow, Moseley began driving toward the Anaheim Police Department. On the way he spotted an officer in a patrol car. Moseley crossed over the median, cut the patrol car off and jumped from his vehicle while holding his child.
Video from the officer’s body-worn camera footage shows Moseley saying, “Please shoot me!” over and over while the toddler crouched at his feet.
“I’m not going to shoot you,” the officer responded. “I’m not going to shoot you in front of your kid.”
Handcuffed, Moseley sobbed and screamed.
“I can’t believe what I just did!” he said. “I lost it, I couldn’t keep control.”
He provided officers with the address of the Anaheim apartment.
An autopsy showed no signs that Smith was pregnant, prosecutors said. The two had broken up months earlier, reconciled, and then agreed to marry but Smith was having second thoughts, they said.
Rather than first-degree murder — which requires premeditation — the defense argued for manslaughter, saying the slaying occurred in the heat of passion.
Moseley’s attorney, David Hammond, told Orange County Superior Court jurors that Moseley suffered from PTSD, from a traumatic childhood and a tour in Iraq where Moseley, a Navy medic, was attached to a Marine unit that went on 250-plus patrols.
Doctors with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the defense attorney said, determined that Moseley suffered from combat-related dreams and daily panic attacks triggered by stress. At the time of the killing, he was going to nursing school.
Moseley is scheduled to return to court for sentencing on May 12.
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