SANTA ROSA -- A Petaluma man who allegedly tried to smother his wife and help hang her was charged in Sonoma County Superior Court Friday with voluntary manslaughter and assisting her suicide.
David O'Connor Clement, 64, did not enter a plea to the two felony charges and is scheduled to return to court Wednesday.
Clement called the sheriff's office around 7:30 a.m. Wednesday to report that 52-year-old Debra Bales of Petaluma had just hanged herself from a tree near the Inn at the Tides parking lot on state Highway 1 in Bodega Bay, Sonoma County sheriff's Sgt. Spencer Crum said.
Detectives responded and determined Clement and his wife were staying at the inn for the past three days with the intent of Bales committing suicide, Crum said.
Bales was not terminally ill but she had recently come off opioid medication, Crum said.
Clement tried to smother his wife with a pillow three times over the three days, and when that failed, Clement and Bales bought a rope, Crum said.
Clement fastened the rope to a tree near their hotel room and tied the knots that helped bales hang herself, Crum said. Clement called 911 after the successful hanging, Crum said.
Clement was booked in the Sonoma County Jail for attempted murder and aiding his wife's suicide.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Brian Staebell would not discuss the facts of the case and the basis for the charges.
"The charges are based on the facts as we know them at this time," Staebell said.
"We are continuing to work with the Sheriff's Office to investigate what occurred as well as the reason behind the defendant's actions and we will present the facts when we are asked to do so by the court," Staebell said.
Clement is being held on $1 million bail in the Sonoma County jail.