Trial ordered for man whose improvised mortar device exploded, k - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Trial ordered for man whose improvised mortar device exploded, killing girlfriend

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EL CAJON (CNS) - An East County handyman whose improvised mortar device exploded, sending shrapnel through his trailer that killed his girlfriend, must stand trial on murder and other charges, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Richard Dale Fox, 40, faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted in the March 2012 death of 38-year-old Jeanette Ogara.

Following a preliminary hearing Wednesday at the El Cajon Courthouse, Judge Evan Kirvin ruled that enough evidence was presented for Fox to proceed to trial on charges of murder, exploding a destructive device causing death and child endangerment. A Superior Court arraignment was set for July 24.

Following Fox's initial arraignment last year, prosecutor C.J. Mody told reporters that there was no evidence that the defendant, who had been drinking, intended to kill his girlfriend.

In a recording of Fox's 911 call immediately following the blast, he can be heard sobbing and apologizing. "I didn't mean to," Fox told the dispatcher. "Why couldn't it be me?"

Fox, Ogara and three male friends were in the trailer in Potrero drinking around 11:30 p.m. on March 5, 2012, when the defendant went outside to ignite the mortar device, Mody said.

The device included a 26-inch-long pipe meant to be stood up, loaded with gunpowder or some other explosive material and ignited by a fuse at its base. It was not pointed at the trailer, according to the prosecutor.

Fox ignited the device and it exploded, causing the pipe to shatter and sending a piece of shrapnel through a side panel of the trailer, hitting Ogara in the upper chest, Mody said.

The couple's 4-year-old daughter, who was sleeping in the front area of the trailer, and the three friends were not injured. Fox was treated for leg wounds.

According to court records, Fox served time in prison in the 1990s for auto theft and weapons possession. He pleaded guilty in 2009 to a misdemeanor battery charge against Ogara.

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