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COLD CASE NEWS Sometimes the passage of time is all a cold case -- one that has gone unsolved for years -- needs to generate heat.

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Old 11-12-2008, 09:39 PM
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ice Michelle Pulsifer

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la...,7544695.story

Nearly 40 years after her 3-year-old daughter went missing, a former Huntington Beach woman -- her gray hair pulled back in a ponytail -- listened as a prosecutor told jurors Monday that the 61-year-old mother spent decades covering up her daughter's murder, even as the child's father and brother searched futilely for answers.

Her own lawyers, though, said Donna Prentice was a loving mother who was abused by her then-boyfriend and forced to repeatedly change the story of what happened to her daughter.

Prentice, who left Huntington Beach in 1969 with her boyfriend after her daughter disappeared, is accused of helping to kill the girl. Prosecutors say Prentice's role in the crime was to bury the body in a canyon in south Orange County.

The body of the toddler, Michelle Pulsifer, has never been found. Prentice's ex-boyfriend, who had also been arrested in connection with the girl's alleged murder, has since died.

On Monday, Prentice listened in Orange County Superior Court as the prosecution and defense presented two different portraits of the woman: a calculating woman who helped kill her own child or a woman so "paralyzed" with fear that she couldn't bring herself to find out what had become of the girl.


"With her arrest, 35 years of lying about Michelle's whereabouts went up in smoke," Deputy Dist. Atty. Larry Yellin said. "She got away with it for 35 years."

Prentice's attorney portrayed the woman's former boyfriend, James Michael Kent, as the probable killer. Kent had been charged with the girl's death but died in custody of kidney and liver failure at age 63 in 2005.

In a confession taped before he died, Kent denied killing Michelle, saying that the little girl was found lifeless in her bedroom after Prentice came out of the room. But he admitted to helping bury the toddler in Williams Canyon, deep in Orange County's backcountry.

The tape was played during Prentice's first murder trial in 2007, in which the jury deadlocked 10 to 2, leaning toward conviction.

After leaving Huntington Beach, Prentice broke up with Kent and remarried, starting her life anew in Wisconsin. Her husband, Noble Prentice, was in the courtroom Monday.

Prentice and Kent were arrested in 2004 after Michelle's father, Richard Pulsifer Sr., launched his own investigation, saying he had been unable to get straight answers from his former wife about their daughter's whereabouts.

Yellin said Monday it remains unclear how Michelle was killed.

In his opening statement Monday, he said the toddler had not been seen or heard from since Prentice and Kent abruptly left their Huntington Beach home and moved to Illinois in 1969, taking their two 6-year-old sons from other marriages with them, but not Michelle.

During Michelle's final moments in the Huntington Beach home, Yellin told jurors, the girl called out "Hide me. Hide me" to her brother, Richard Pulsifer Jr. Prentice came in and took her away, Yellin said, and it was the last time her brother saw her.

In the decades to come, Yellin argued, Prentice lied to her former husband, son and other family members about Michelle's whereabouts, saying first that she was being raised by her boyfriend's mother, and later that Michelle was happily finishing up high school in Canada.

Yellin contended that Prentice would not have gone with Kent to Illinois if she did not have anything to do with her daughter's murder.

"When you look at how these people are acting with the coverup and the leaving and going to Illinois, there is no way they could have done this alone," Yellin told reporters after his opening statement.

"If you are innocent, there is no way you are going to go back to someone who killed your child."

On Monday, defense attorney Ken Norelli told jurors that Prentice was a "loving, nurturing mother" and that Kent was a "violent, dangerous man with an exceptionally short fuse who was abusive to everyone in his family."

"Her abuse explains the events after the disappearance of the child," Norelli said.

Norelli said Prentice fell prey to Kent's manipulation when she went with him to Illinois, that she had nothing to do with her daughter's disappearance and did not try to find out what happened to her daughter because she was "paralyzed with fear."

"There was fear and shame that is associated with years of wondering what Mike Kent did or didn't do with Michelle," Norelli told jurors.

"She is a victim," Norelli said. "She is as much a victim as those children, and that included Michelle."

Prentice, who is being tried based on sentencing laws of 1969, faces five years to life in prison if convicted.
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Old 11-13-2008, 09:05 AM
mel36 mel36 is offline
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Default Re: Michelle Pulsifer

Michelle's brother said that Michelle wanted him to hide her, then the mother comes into the room to get her, then there was a box in the garage that his mother would not let him near, sounds like she was the one who caused Michelle's death I don't buy her story that she was affraid of her ex boyfriend if so then why didn't she run to the police after she left him she wasn't affraid to leave him but was affraid to tell police that he killed her daughter? Michelles father tried to get the truth out of her and she wouldn't tell him I mean wasnt she affraid for her other childrens lives? And she should be charged according to when the conviction happens not what the laws were back then 5 years is not nearly enough..she should spend the rest of her life in prison and she should be made to go find her daughters body I don't care how long it takes.
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Old 11-13-2008, 01:52 PM
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Unhappy Re: Michelle Pulsifer

That's what I've been thinking for a while, Mel. I think her boyfriend is to be believed in part, he helped bury poor Michelle, but "mom" killed her. You're right, if she was so afraid, why not come forward after she left him? How either of them could live with themselves after this, I don't know. I only wish the boyfriend had found one ounce of compassion in his soul before he died and told Michell's father where she's buried.
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Old 12-05-2008, 06:20 PM
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12/05/2008

Cold case murder trial teeters on a mistrial


Left: Michelle Pulsifer. Top right, with her brother Rich. (Click to enlarge).


OCRegister - Santa Ana,CA,USA


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Cold case murder trial teeters on a mistrial

Jurors reveal at various times that they reached a verdict, that they are hopelessly deadlocked, and that further deliberations might work
By LARRY WELBORN
The Orange County Register

SANTA ANA The retrial of a Wisconsin woman accused of murdering her three-year-old daughter in 1969 teetered on the brink of a mistrial late Wednesday as jurors announced at various times they once had reached a verdict, that they were hopelessly deadlocked, and then that further deliberations might succeed.
The seven-woman, five-man jury has been deliberating for five and a half days now in the second trial for Donna Pulsifer Prentice, 61, who was charged in 2004 with murder for the death of Michelle Pulsifer, who disappeared from her mother's Huntington Beach home in July 1969.
Jurors showed signs of frustration as they were escorted into and out of Superior Court Judge Richard M. King's courtroom on several occasions after they sent out a note shortly after the noon recess indicating a stalemate. One of the jurors became teary-eyed during discussions.
King was about to declare a hung jury and a mistrial later in the afternoon before he questioned jurors one-by-one and asked if further instructions, read-back of testimony or additional arguments might lead to a verdict. (more...)


Additional link: The Girl in the Little Blue Dress


Posted by Meyahna at 6:09 AM

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Old 12-05-2008, 06:22 PM
bettybrown1623
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Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Cold case murder trial teeters on a mistrial

Jurors reveal at various times that they reached a verdict, that they are hopelessly deadlocked, and that further deliberations might work

By LARRY WELBORN
The Orange County Register
Comments 0| Recommend 0

SANTA ANA The retrial of a Wisconsin woman accused of murdering her three-year-old daughter in 1969 teetered on the brink of a mistrial late Wednesday as jurors announced at various times they once had reached a verdict, that they were hopelessly deadlocked, and then that further deliberations might succeed.
The seven-woman, five-man jury has been deliberating for five and a half days now in the second trial for Donna Pulsifer Prentice, 61, who was charged in 2004 with murder for the death of Michelle Pulsifer, who disappeared from her mother's Huntington Beach home in July 1969.
Jurors showed signs of frustration as they were escorted into and out of Superior Court Judge Richard M. King's courtroom on several occasions after they sent out a note shortly after the noon recess indicating a stalemate. One of the jurors became teary-eyed during discussions.
King was about to declare a hung jury and a mistrial later in the afternoon before he questioned jurors one-by-one and asked if further instructions, read-back of testimony or additional arguments might lead to a verdict.
When three of the jurors indicated that some additional assistance might help, the judge sent them home for the day.
The jurors asked for the court reporter to read back the testimony of two witnesses, including Richard Pulsifer Jr., the little girl's older brother who was six years old when she disappeared nearly 40 years ago. He testified that she ran into his bedroom in July 1969 saying "hide me, hide me," and that after his mother took the Michelle out of his bedroom, he never saw her again.
One juror also suggested that closing arguments be re-opened – six days after the case was submitted for deliberations – so that attorneys can clarify jury instructions. King will take that suggestion up with attorneys Thursday morning.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Larry Yellin told the jury in his final arguments last month that Prentice either killed her daughter on her own, or acted with Michael Kent, her then-boyfriend. Yellin claimed that they buried the child's body in Williams Canyon in eastern Orange County.
But defense attorney Ken Norelli argued that Kent, who had a reputation as a wife-beater and a child abuser, was solely responsible for Michelle's death.
Kent died of cancer in 2005 before he could be brought to trial.
Prentice's first trial ended with a 10-2 hung jury favoring guilt. She remains in custody pending the outcome of her case.
Contact the writer: lwelborn@ocregister.com, or 714 834-3784



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Old 01-01-2009, 12:45 PM
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[COLOR=#333333! important]Case against Donna Prentice ended after two mistrials. But the legal process showed Michelle Pulsifer isn't forgotten.[/color]
[COLOR=#999999! important]Dana Parsons
December 26, 2008 [/color]
When the end came and yet another jury said it couldn't reach a verdict, the temptation was to say the system did horribly wrong by 3-year-old Michelle Pulsifer.

Maybe that's a no-brainer, that it goes without saying. When a toddler disappears and is presumed dead -- almost certainly by nefarious means and under the supervision of her mother and a boyfriend -- how can no one be held accountable? We put common drunks in jail; couldn't we find a way to bring justice for a 3-year-old?

The short answer is that life is full of square pegs and round holes, even in matters as consequential as a little girl who vanished in 1969 and whom no one seemed to care about for the longest time.

And that's the way the story could have ended. The system could have permanently forgotten Michelle and relegated her disappearance to the deepest, darkest section of the cold-case files, but Orange County prosecutor Larry Yellin insisted that not happen.

And though he lost twice in trying to hold someone accountable, I'd argue that Yellin struck a blow for at least some version of justice. Which is to say, he tried.

Michelle Pulsifer would be 42 had she lived. Odds are that she would have been a wife and mother. She would have gone to high school, maybe college, listened to pop music and gone to movies and, like the rest of us, marveled at how things have changed since the 1970s.

Even these kind of mundane thoughts drove Yellin as he took Michelle's mother to trial twice since 2007 on murder charges. Both ended in mistrials, the most recent being earlier this month with the jury deadlocking 11 to 1 for acquittal of second-degree murder and 7 to 5 for guilt on involuntary manslaughter.

The judge ruled that there won't be a third trial, saying the evidence isn't there to get a conviction. Aside from the difficulty inherent in trying a 39-year-old case and the absence of a body, the boyfriend of the girl's mother -- who also had been charged in the case -- died in custody in 2005. He denied killing the girl, indirectly pointed the finger at her mother, Donna Prentice, but said he buried Michelle in an Orange County canyon. Prentice's attorney argued that the boyfriend was probably the killer.

I'm not writing today about the evidence or the strength of the case. What moves me, in a way that's hard to nail down on paper, is how Yellin's determination to bring a tough case to trial shows that we didn't forget the 3-year-old.

It is a case with many complications. You can see why it could have remained dormant forever. There was no public outcry to solve the Michelle Pulsifer case.

"The clamor is for the current case," Yellin says. "There's no reason to be clamoring over cold cases. But one of the things that makes it poignant is that you get the sense in hindsight as to the life they have missed. . . . You see how life has passed them by, how it went on without them. It's a loss they didn't get to come along for the ride."

That's what I'm trying to say, that even if Michelle didn't get a chance to live a life, at least someone all these years later cared enough to take note of that and assign some responsibility for why she didn't.

I ask Yellin about that aspect. Yes, there's the law to consider, but what about the personal sense of making things right for a forgotten child?

"My personal sense of justice, or sense of compassion, which leans toward the victims, does fuel my efforts," he says. "I don't think I can keep that out of it. But I hope I'm smart enough that I never let it blind me or make a mistake that could lead to an injustice, like if would I feel so passionate that I go after the wrong person."

But even that dispassion didn't keep him from choking up during his closing argument, he says.

It came while he was talking about what might have been for Michelle. "I was trying to catch the jury's emotion, and it caught my own."

The case wasn't prosecuted all those years ago because Prentice told people that she had left Michelle with others when she and her boyfriend abruptly left Orange County for the Midwest. The couple, however, took, two young boys with them -- sons from their previous marriages.

Michelle's biological father says that because Prentice had full custody, he was stymied in learning in the ensuing years of her whereabouts.

I ask Yellin, the father of daughters ages 11, 8 and 5, if the failure to get a conviction haunts him. "I can accept it because I recognize it was a difficult case," he says. People on both sides of the bar in Orange County praised his efforts, he says.

"The most heartening thing is that if nothing else, we did make people remember her. That wasn't really our goal, but there's a component of sort of remembering these lost people, reminding other people who didn't know anything about them or that they even existed. In this case, not even her loved ones knew what happened to her."

The investigation and subsequent trials brought some answers to her biological father and his family, Yellin says. "I take a lot of solace in that. At least I did that for them."

And they left him with something, too. After the second hung jury, Michelle's father gave him a Christmas ornament with his daughter's name on it and asked Yellin to hang it on his tree.

In a very literal way, Yellin says, he took the case home with him.

dana.parsons@latimes.com
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Old 11-01-2009, 05:35 PM
mel36 mel36 is offline
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Default Re: Michelle Pulsifer

I watched Dateline about Michelle and there is something that struck me, we all know that within amongst all of the lies the truth does come out.

When the then boyfriend or husband of Donna was in the tapped interview he said that he picked it up off of the garage floor not her but it, then he said he put it in the back of the car.
The brother of Michelle said that he attempted to go into the garage and his mother had chased him out, because he was asking about Michelle.
The stepfather said that Donna was leaning up against the house, and not the wall, as if she were outside? That he went into Michelle's room and that she was laying on the floor in a fetal position and that she was cold, Michelle's brother says that Michelle came into his room trying to hide from Donna.
I think that when Donna came into the brother's room that night to get Michelle that's when she killed her, then Donna came out of Michelle's room and that's when she told her ex that Michelle was dead, because remember the brother said he heard his mother say that she was dead. I think then is when they took Michelle into the garage and placed her into a box. Then the next day when the brother went into the garage Donna was out there and he asked her where Michelle was, she made him leave the garage.
I think the Ex loaded Michelle into the back of the wagon drove her off to the desert buried her and returned then the family left for Chicago.

I believe that Donna killed Michelle and that the stepfather buried her. Her claim to be a battered woman does not hold up with me, the natural instinct of a mother is ALWAYS to protect her children when she loves them. My mother was a battered woman and she was the one that took the beatings if her Ex went after them. She lived for 40 years with no thought of her little girl and by her own admission she didn't want to know.

The only time she cried is when she thought she was going to have to pay for what she did. Michelle was a beautiful little girl and she did not deserve to die at the hands of the very person that was supposed to be her protector.

Donna's Ex husband is getting his just reward. And soon it will be Donna's turn.
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Old 11-01-2009, 10:35 PM
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Default Re: Michelle Pulsifer

I have always been at odds with everyone else in this one, I don't think Michelle's mom knows what happened to her, and I think she was too afraid to do anything about it.
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