John St. Angelo, accused of stabbing his former wife 23 times not long after their divorce was final, told a police negotiator that she attacked him with the knife first, the officer testified Tuesday.
So he took it from her and killed her, St. Angelo told the officer.
St. Angelo, 50, is accused of fatally stabbing Suzanne Parsons, 49, of Haslet on Dec. 30, 2013, in her north Fort Worth real estate office.
The next day, New Year’s Eve, St. Angelo commandeered a woman’s house in the 6800 block of Permian Lane and held her hostage, authorities say. The woman, who has not been identified, eventually persuaded St. Angelo to let her leave, and she called 911.
Police, including a SWAT team with six snipers, surrounded St. Angelo. The snipers were in place but didn’t fire a shot during the standoff, which lasted more than five hours, according to witness testimony.
St. Angelo “said he had just wanted to talk to [Parsons] but she came at him with a knife,” officer Kevin Keisler, a Fort Worth police hostage negotiator, testified Tuesday.
“He said it was self-defense. She came at him with a knife, and he took the knife from her and stabbed her 15 times.”
A recording of the conversation between Keisler and St. Angelo was played by prosecutors Tuesday. St. Angelo could be heard saying: “I stabbed her 15 … times. I can’t believe I … did that. I … loved that woman to death.”
On the stand Tuesday, Keisler said he told St. Angelo that stabbing someone 15 times is not an accident.
St. Angelo blamed Parsons for the loss of his business and the collapse of his finances, according to the recorded statements. At one time, St. Angelo was a successful builder, with schools and hospitals on his résumé.
By the time Parsons was killed, St. Angelo was working as a handyman. His job was to repair rental housing for a property management company that Parsons managed and to do repairs at her RE/MAX office, according to testimony.
“During the initial conversation, he was very agitated, very upset. He was mad about everything,” Keisler said.
Police were concerned that St. Angelo would commit suicide, which he threatened to do more than once, Keisler testified.
About 21/2 hours into the standoff, Keisler said, St. Angelo’s voice became garbled and hard to understand. Keisler said officers believed St. Angelo had shot himself. St. Angelo told Keisler that he had been shot in the leg.
On the recording, Keisler could be heard pleading with St. Angelo to come out of the house with his hands in plain sight while he remained on the phone. Keisler cautioned St. Angelo not to exit the house with his rifle and to do whatever the officers in the front of the house told him to.
“John, you keep telling me that you didn’t want to hurt her,” Keisler said, according to the recording. “Your kids need to hear that. The police who are investigating the case need to hear that story. You need to come out of the house.”
Soon the line went silent. When St. Angelo returned to the phone, he said a few words that were barely understandable, then screamed. Keisler testified that the scream was an indication that St. Angelo had turned the rifle — which he had fired at police — on himself.
Police testified that at the beginning of the negotiation, they poked a hole in the garage door so they could send in a robot. The robot was equipped with speakers that police could use to speak with St. Angelo, but they could not use the robot to hear what he said, according to testimony.
The negotiator used a telephone to communicate with him, police said.
“John, I assure you that police do not want to hurt you,” Keisler said. “That’s why they called me.”
After St. Angelo surrendered, Keisler said, he could see self-inflicted wounds in the torso, mouth and leg. According to another Fort Worth police officer who testified Tuesday, while St. Angelo was being treated at a hospital, he said, “I killed her.”
The trial is expected to continue Wednesday in state District Judge George Gallagher’s court.
Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752