Trial begins for Fairbanks man accused of murdering girlfriend

Posted: Tuesday, April 23, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Prosecutors say a Fairbanks man charged in the beating death of his girlfriend last year had a history of domestic violence.

Oliver Lemon, 48, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Nancy Tegoseak, 39, last April. His trial began Monday in state court in Fairbanks.

Assistant District Attorney Jeff O'Bryant said in opening statements that the medical examiner's office found Tegoseak's death was due to a blunt force trauma to the head.

O'Bryant said Lemon has a long history of domestic violence against Tegoseak and a previous girlfriend. Defense attorney Lori Bodwell argued Tegoseak was a chronic alcoholic and died from repetitive injuries suffered during alcoholic binges.

Witnesses told police the couple had gone to the friend's house after working a night shift as janitors at Kmart. The two immediately began drinking, O'Bryant said.

At about noon that day, Lemon was heading to bed when he caught Tegoseak trying to steal $10 from him to go downtown to continue drinking, O'Bryant said.

According to witness, they argued before he slapped her hard enough to knock Tegoseak and the chair she was sitting in onto the floor. The couple soon went into the bedroom, apparently to go to bed.

''Nobody saw her come out of that bedroom again,'' O'Bryant said. When a friend took food to the couple in the bedroom later that day, the friend saw Tegoseak lying on the floor, O'Bryant said.

Later, Lemon left for work and told a friend to check on Tegoseak. When she did, she found Tegoseak's body cold and lifeless, O'Bryant said.

When medics arrived shortly afterwards, they declared Tegoseak dead at the apartment. There were bruises on virtually every part of her body, O'Bryant said.

Lemon's defense is that Tegoseak was a chronic alcoholic and died from repetitive injuries she suffered during these alcoholic binges, not from beatings.

Bodwell said medical examiners found a pre-existing head injury, one that was five to 10 days old, and argued this was the injury that caused Tegoseak's death, not Lemon's slap.

''There is not physical testimony to connect Mr. Lemon's actions to her death,'' Bodwell said.



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