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Manker claims death was mercy killing; hearing pending autopsy

James Manker

Defense attorney Robin Puchek recently told a local judge that autopsy results are needed before there can be meaningful plea negotiations in a criminal case involving a Mohave Valley shooting death. Puchek represents James Manker, who told authorities that the death of his girlfriend, Tina Marie Stimmell, was a mercy killing.

Few details in the case have surfaced through court proceedings or from law enforcement. Most information comes from a probable cause statement featuring Manker’s purported admissions.

That statement indicated that Manker, 29, first told dispatch that he killed Stimmell, 56, when he called the sheriff’s office at 9:45 a.m. on Jan. 29. His speech was slurred and he reportedly said that he had taken medication and had been drinking vodka after shooting Stimmell while she slept in her recliner in the living room of the home they shared in the 9900 block of South Needles Drive.

“The male subject then told the dispatcher that he had to go throw up, because he could not believe what he just did,” the affidavit stated. 

The sheriff’s office dispatch center received corroborating information from Manker’s brother, Paul Angelotti. The Las Vegas resident told dispatch that he had read text messages when he woke up hours after Manker sent them between 1 and 1:30 a.m.

“James admitted to Paul that he put her out of her misery, that he shot her three times with a .38 special in the head and that she is lying dead in her Lazy Boy,” the statement said.

Manker surrendered without incident when deputies arrived at the residence. Manker was placed in custody and Stimmell was found dead in the living room chair. Three shell casings were removed from a nearby trash can and a pillow burned by bullet holes was located on the couch.

Manker was taken to Kingman, where he provided additional information during an interview after he waived his Miranda rights against self-incrimination. According to the probable cause statement, he said that Stimmell’s health had been deteriorating and that she had been diagnosed recently with stage 4 kidney failure.

Puchek told Superior Court Judge Derek Carlisle that he awaits autopsy results regarding Stimmell’s health before he can assert a possible euthanasia defense. He asked the judge to continue Manker’s pretrial conference for six weeks or more.

Carlisle scheduled that hearing for July 3.