MARTINEZ -- A felon accused of killing his wife in their Pittsburg home last August was ordered to stand trial Monday on charges that could result in a sentence of 50 years to life in prison.
Prosecutors alleged during a two-day preliminary hearing that Kevin Jerome Easter, 52, shot his wife, Janice, five times at about 11 p.m. Aug. 7 as she sat on a sofa in the living room of the couple's Army Street home.
Janice Easter, 52, was pronounced dead at 11:30 p.m. Kevin Easter is charged with murder and being a felon in possession of a firearm, and qualifies for the enhancement of personally and intentionally discharging a firearm and causing great bodily injury or death.
Four members of the Pittsburg Police Department who worked on the case testified that multiple witnesses reported hearing a gunshot, followed by a female screaming, followed by a rapid succession of gunshots. One witness reported seeing a man fitting Easter's description emerging from the house and getting into a dark-colored pickup truck that was parked on the front lawn for most of the day, and that Kevin Easter was known to have purchased from a neighbor.
Multiple witnesses said the truck sped away from the house eastbound toward Harbor Street.
Police said they had answered a disturbance call at the Easters' house three days before the killing. During their investigation, a revolver was discovered beneath a night stand.
A revolver with the same serial number was recovered shortly after the shooting in a storm drain near the Linda Vista Avenue home of Kevin Easter's cousin. The cousin told police he awoke at 3 a.m. to the sound of Easter pounding on his door. The cousin drove Easter to the police station.
The defense called two witnesses who, during rambling testimony, testified they were with Kevin Easter the night of the shooting, playing dominoes and drinking beer. Unable to recall many details of the night when quizzed under oath, the witnesses seemed certain Easter had arrived around 10:30 p.m., and that he had been wearing a long-sleeved shirt.
Witnesses reported that the man exiting the Easters' house after the shooting was wearing a white tank top.
Prosecutor Molly Manoukian suggested to Judge Mary Ann O'Malley that the testimony of the defense witnesses was "inherently unreliable." O'Malley ruled there was enough evidence to bind Easter over for trial.
Easter's next court appearance will be April 10, when he is scheduled to be arraigned.
Contact Gary Peterson at 925-952-5053. Follow him at Twitter.com/garyscribe.