Juan Ignacio Blanco  


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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Parricide - Domestic violence
Number of victims: 3
Date of murders: November 25, 1995
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: 1968
Victims profile: His wife, Shennavia Dehaney, 22, and their two children, Errol Jr., 5, and Shantelique, 2
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Hartford, Connecticut, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison on December 8, 1999

The Supreme Court of the State of Connecticut


State of Connecticut v. Errol Dehaney (SC 16247)


On November 25, 1995, Errol, a Hartford, Connecticut resident with a history of domestic violence, shot and killed his 22-year-old wife and two kids.

The couple argued in the car after leaving a friend's Thanksgiving party. Shennavia, his unfortunate wife, went back to the friends' house where Errol followed her and shot her in the head. He then returned to the car and killed his two children, ages 5 and 2.


Man kills wife, two children after going to holiday dinner

The Seattle Times

Saturday, November 25, 1995

HARTFORD, Conn. - A man with a record of domestic violence was charged yesterday with shooting his wife and their two children to death during an argument on the way home from Thanksgiving dinner.

According to police, Errol S. Dehaney, 27, and Shennavia Dehaney, 22, argued in the car after leaving the holiday party, and Shennavia Dehaney got out and went back into the friends' house, police said. Dehaney allegedly followed her into the house and shot her in the head, then went back to the car and shot Errol Jr., 5, and Shantelique, 2, in the head.


State v. Dehaney

The jury reasonably could have found the following facts:

The defendant and his wife, Shennavia Brooks (victim), lived in Hartford with their two children, Errol, Jr., who was born in 1990, and Shantalique, who was born in 1993. In 1993, the defendant's marriage began to deteriorate. Mary Shears testified that at one point in 1993, the victim left the defendant and, along with the two children, moved in with Shears.

In December, 1993, the victim had the defendant arrested for allegedly attempting to strangle her with an extension cord. According to Anne Marie Cook, the victim's co-worker at the department of children and families, the victim would ''cower'' in the defendant's presence.

In the fall of 1995, the victim had told Shears that she was planning on moving into her own apartment and getting divorced. Cook testified that, at that time, she was helping the victim find programs through which she could obtain affordable housing for herself and the children.

On September 29, 1995, the victim applied for and obtained an ex parte restraining order against the defendant, claiming that she feared for the safety of herself and her children. On October 27, 1995, she filed a divorce action against him. On November 8, 1995, the defendant was arrested for sexual assault in a spousal or cohabiting relationship. That case was pending and had not yet gone to trial on November 23, 1995.

On November 23, 1995, the defendant, the victim and their children spent much of the day together, celebrating Thanksgiving at the home of the defendant's sister, Sharon James. At approximately 2:30 p.m. that afternoon, the defendant left James' home to attend another Thanksgiving gathering at 39 Grant Street in Hartford, the home of some friends.

The defendant's father, aunt and other close friends were present at that gathering, but the victim had not been invited because of the criminal charges she had filed against the defendant.

At approximately 9 p.m. that evening, the defendant returned to James' home to pick up the victim and the children and drive them home. James testified that the defendant appeared happy and ate from a plate of food the victim had prepared for him. At 10 p.m. that evening, the defendant drove the victim and the children back to 39 Grant Street in order to pick up his father and take them all home.

The defendant left the victim with the children in the car while he went into 39 Grant Street. After approximately one hour, Maureen Grant, one of the guests, testified that she went outside and saw the victim sitting in the defendant's car with the children. Up until this point, no one in the house knew that they were outside.

The victim asked Grant to find out if the defendant was coming out soon because their daughter had wet herself and they needed to go home. Another guest, Velora McIntosh Jones, overheard this and went back inside the house to tell the defendant that the victim and the children were waiting for him. He responded to Jones' comments by ''hiss[ing]'' through his teeth and slamming down a bottle of beer.

He then went outside, argued with the victim, and retrieved something from the trunk of the car. He placed a locking device on the steering wheel of the car, took the keys out of the ignition, and returned to the house. The victim followed him inside, leaving the children in the car, and asked to use the telephone in order to call a cab to take her and the children home.

The defendant then went upstairs and into the bathroom. Grant headed upstairs and the victim followed behind her. The defendant emerged from the upstairs bathroom with a gun in his hand, cursed the victim and shot her five times at point blank range. She was rendered unconscious almost at once and died shortly thereafter.

The defendant then went downstairs, out the front door, and proceeded to his car, where he first opened the front passenger door and shot his daughter once in the head, and then opened the rear passenger door and shot his son twice in the head. Both children were rendered unconscious instantaneously and died shortly thereafter.

The defendant reentered the house, pacing back and forth, holding the gun to his head and threatening to kill himself. Grant picked up the telephone to call 911 and found that her husband was already on the telephone, speaking with the 911 dispatcher. She then handed the telephone to the defendant, who told the dispatcher that he had just killed his wife and children. He explained that he shot his wife because she had lied to the police about him. Shortly thereafter, the police arrived at the house, the defendant surrendered his gun and he was taken into custody.

At trial, the defendant asserted the defenses of insanity and extreme emotional disturbance. In support of these defenses, he presented two psychiatrists as expert witnesses. Harold Schwartz testified that the defendant has a personality disorder and that, at the time of the murders, he suffered from a ''major depression with psychotic features . . . marked, predominantly, by hallucinations over an extended period of time, auditory hallucinations, which were telling him to shoot his wife and children.''

Schwartz testified that he believed that the defendant was overcome by an extreme emotional disturbance that caused him to kill his wife. The defendant then ''entered a state of dissociation'' in which he was ''unaware, consciously, of what he was doing.'' It was in this dissociative state that he then shot his children. The other defense expert, Howard Zonana, testified that after the defendant had shot his wife, he suffered an extreme emotional reaction and then entered a dissociative state during which he shot and killed his children.

The jury returned a verdict of guilty on each count.



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