Father ROBERT HOSELTON has been arrested for killing his estranged wife's friend, then barricading himself in his house and setting it on fire. His wife had taken out a restraining order on Hoselton back in April, after he had choked her and threatened to kill her. The wife has said that the husband has physically assaulted her in the past and kept her from talking to friends or leaving the house. In fact, Hoselton had previously pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor battery charge, for which he served all of five days in jail.
Hoselton and his wife had two young children, and they were due to appear in court for a child custody hearing. At the time, the dad had limited visitation rights with supervision (thank goodness for that, or maybe there would be dead children in this case as well).
Suspect in Pleasant Hill murder-arson had past paranoia about wife, records show
By Robert Salonga and Malaika Fraley Contra Costa Times
Posted: 06/19/2009 07:10:06 AM PDT
Updated: 06/19/2009 05:58:07 PM PDT
PLEASANT HILL — A Walnut Creek man suspected of killing his estranged wife's friend and then lighting their family home ablaze has exhibited paranoia in the past over her male friends, including secretly recording conversations, court records show.
Robert Hoselton, 39, was arrested Thursday on suspicion of killing 42-year-old Manuel Gwin of Pleasant Hill, barricading himself from police in the house that he until recently shared with his wife and kids and then setting the house on fire.
Gwin was a friend of Hoselton's wife, who had a restraining order against her husband after he was arrested April 26 on suspicion of choking and threatening to kill her, according to police and court records. Hoselton pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor battery charge, served five days in jail and was given three years probation.
When she filed for the restraining order, Veronica Hoselton outlined a pattern of abusive and controlling behavior, including instances where he physically assaulted her and kept her from talking to friends and leaving the house. She also wrote that her husband was "irrationally jealous" and convinced she was having an affair.
Court records state that while cleaning their Mary Drive home, Veronica Hoselton discovered a recording device, and that her husband admitted to placing it. He explained that he wanted to monitor her conversations with a male friend.
"I often felt very isolated and alone," she said in court documents.
Robert Hoselton, a pipe fitter from Walnut Creek, has no other criminal history in the county aside from the battery conviction. He and his wife married in 2006 after dating off and on since 1995. They have two children, ages 4 and 2.
On May 8, he was ordered by the court to move out of their house, and the couple was due back in court Tuesday for a child custody hearing. He most recently had limited visitation rights with supervision.
Investigators on Friday formally linked the homicide and arson. It marked the first homicide in nearly two years in a city that seldom experiences such violent crime.
Police responded to the 2900 block of Dorothy Drive about 7:40 p.m. Thursday after a friend of Gwin's told police she saw what looked like blood on his front porch. Officers arrived and found find Gwin dead inside the home. The coroner's office said Gwin died from stab wounds.
Dorothy Drive is about three miles from 1600 Mary Drive, where Pleasant Hill police responded earlier in the day when Robert Hoselton barricaded himself inside his family house and set it on fire. Hoselton was arrested and treated at a hospital for a self-inflicted knife wound.
A few hours after the arrest, police found Gwin. Investigators soon determined that Hoselton was a suspect in both crimes, said Chief Pete Dunbar.
Dunbar said Gwin and Veronica Hoselton were friends, but declined to elaborate further on their relationship. He also said it does not appear that Hoselton and Gwin knew each other.
Mary Rae Fouts, a neighbor, described Gwin as a single man with a girlfriend who visited occasionally.
"He would walk his dog, a little black Lab, around the neighborhood," said Fouts, who said she had talked with Gwin earlier in the week.
Thursday was an unusually violent day for Pleasant Hill, which averages about one homicide every two years, and did not investigate one in 2008.
In November 2007, Peter Evangelos Magganas killed his father, Jerry Magganas, before deliberately causing a car crash that injured an Antioch family. Peter Magganas was found not guilty by reason of insanity and was sentenced to life in a state mental hospital.