SUSPECT TALKED OF MURDER — (The Wichita Eagle)

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The Wichita Eagle (KS)

October 11, 2001

Author: JERRY ABEJO, The Wichita Eagle

EL DORADO – Two weeks before Jeanne Sommers of Towanda was shot and killed in her home, suspect Zachary Arvieux, 22, talked about murdering her, according to testimony Wednesday in Butler County District Court.

Arvieux’s wife of three years, Laura Sommers, testified during a preliminary hearing that she did not take Arvieux seriously when he made these comments to her.

Arvieux is charged with the death of Jeanne Sommers, 59, who was shot while watching television in her home sometime before 3 p.m. Aug. 6.

Judge John Sanders found probable cause to try Arvieux for first-degree murder and scheduled an arraignment for Oct. 29.

Arvieux’s lawyer, David Moses, had asked for a lesser charge, arguing that not enough evidence supported the murder charge.

Through parts of the hearing, Moses questioned witnesses on his client’s mental health at the time of the murder. Witnesses testified that Arvieux spoke about “temptations” and “bad thoughts” he had prior to the shooting.

Testimony painted Arvieux as a quiet and withdrawn person. Witnesses said he took medication for depression and had talked about committing suicide.

Witnesses said he kept numerous guns inside his home.

Laura Sommers testified that she recalled one occasion when Arvieux spoke about hearing “demonic-sounding” voices telling him to leave, long before the murders occurred.

Two handwritten notes filling three pages of a notebook were found on the coffee table of Arvieux’s home, a trailer on the Sommers’ property.

Butler County sheriff’s Detective Anthony Wilhite testified that the letters were written prior to the shooting. In the notes, the writer talked about asking for forgiveness despite feeling a strong temptation to shoot somebody.

“I deserve all the plagues of the Bible. I love Jesus very much. . . . But if I go on any longer, the temptation to kill will overwhelm me,” the note stated.

A note addressed to the pastor of Arvieux’s church goes on to scold the congregation for not supporting Arvieux when he announced he had an illness.

Sgt. Ron Spurgeon of the Butler County Sheriff’s Department testified that Arvieux turned himself in at the county courts building around 5 p.m. Aug. 6. He said Arvieux admitted then to shooting his mother-in-law.

Wilhite testified that the murder weapon, a .44-caliber Magnum revolver, was found under the driver’s seat, on the floor of a 1989 red GMC truck that Arvieux drove to the court building when he turned himself in. One bullet was missing.

In the home where the shooting occurred, that bullet was found lodged in the bedroom closet where daughter Brenda Sommers had been at the time.

Reach Jerry Abejo at 268-6622 or jabejo@wichitaeagle.com.

Record Number:  0110110091