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SANTA CRUZ -- Prosecutors portrayed a Felton man charged with murdering his girlfriend as remorseless and callous as they presented their closing arguments in his trial Thursday.

Prosecutor Jeff Rosell described Richard Chavez, 43, as an alcoholic with a violent temper and a history of domestic abuse.

"The most important thing we have learned about Mr. Chavez is that when he feels slighted, he's going to responded with disproportionate violence," Rosell told jurors. "He's going to punish the person and get them back."

That mentality fueled Chavez's behavior the night of Feb. 28, 2010, Rosell said.

"And he punished Deanna Dudley, and he got her back with a 2½-pound Maglite flashlight," he said.

Dudley, 37, died of head trauma after being struck in the head at the Rose Acres Lane home she and Chavez had recently moved to.

He hit her with the flashlight "not one, not two, not three but at least five times," Rosell said, his voice rising and his tone incredulous.

The blows split Dudley's skin down to the bone, cracked her skull and sent blood spraying across the walls of the closet emergency responders found her in, he told jurors.

Dudley wasn't perfect, Rosell said. She made lots of mistakes, but she tried, he said, referencing the testimony of her son, Stewart Newell, who emphasized how much his mother tried and that she cared about him and his sister.


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Newell testified last week that his mother got into a number of fights with his sister, but maintained that his sister was the instigator and that his mother only hit back when she had to.

"It doesn't matter what they say about Deanna Dudley," Rosell said. "Stewart's mother didn't deserve to die like that. No one deserves to die like that."

Defense attorneys Mark Briscoe and Anthony Robinson, who will deliver their closing remarks Friday, don't dispute Chavez killed Dudley. They do, however, contest that her death constitutes first-degree murder. They say Dudley had a drinking problem and a violent streak, and that she came at Chavez with the flashlight first.

Jurors will be allowed to consider second-degree murder and manslaughter charges as well as first-degree murder when they deliberate. Under state law, first-degree murder is characterized as an unlawful killing with malice and premeditation.

Follow Sentinel reporter Jessica M. Pasko on Twitter at Twitter.com/jmpasko96