Tuesday, June 18, 2002

Sailor accused in
double killing has a
history of domestic abuse

By Gregg K. Kakesako

Navy Petty Officer David DeArmond, suspected of killing his wife and his mother-in-law last week, was placed on three months' probation seven years ago for abusing his first wife in San Diego.

The San Diego city attorney's office said yesterday DeArmond was charged with both domestic abuse and choking his wife, Jeanette, during an argument on Nov. 24, 1994.

On Dec. 8, 1995, DeArmond pleaded guilty to both charges -- misdemeanors in California -- and was placed on probation for three months.

Brian Erickson, head of San Diego's domestic violence unit, said DeArmond got into an argument with his wife. At one point he grabbed her by the neck, pinned her to the wall, then pushed her to ground. The couple had a 9-month-old child, who fell during the argument.

Besides being placed on probation, DeArmond was fined $200 and required to do 30 days of public service and attend a 52-week counseling program sponsored by the Navy's family advocacy service.

DeArmond is currently being held in the Ford Island brig for allegedly beating to death his second wife, Zaleha DeArmond, 31, with a blunt instrument June 10. His mother-in-law, Saniah Abdul Ghani, 66, who was staying with the couple in their Hokulani naval housing, was stabbed to death. Both are from Singapore.

No charges have been filed while the Navy investigates the double homicide. DeArmond, 32, could face the death penalty if convicted by a military court-martial because murder in the military is a capital offense under certain circumstances.

The two women were buried Friday at Hawaiian Memorial Park in Kaneohe following a traditional Muslim ceremony, a mortuary official said. The Navy paid the burial costs. The couple's three children -- two boys, ages 2 and 5, and a 3-year-old daughter -- have been turned over to the state Child Protective Services.

In 1999, DeArmond reported to the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard from San Diego, where he was working as a ship hull technician.

In petitioning for a restraining order last month, Zaleha DeArmond cited the San Diego case. According to the petition, her husband had a violent temper and believed everyone was against him. He abused her and threatened to get custody of their children, the petition said.

Zaleha DeArmond said she feared for her life since January, according to the petition.

Sometime before June 10, DeArmond moved out of the housing complex at Leal Place and into the enlisted barracks at Pearl Harbor, his wife said.

Two days before Zaleha DeArmond sought the restraining order May 3, she said her husband trashed the dining table in the couple's two-story home just outside of Pearl Harbor Shipyard's Nimitz gate until it broke, threw away the Quran -- the Muslim holy book -- and threw their wedding photo in the toilet, she wrote.

"You are gonna pay for everything you did to me" and "Die, b----" were a few of the threats he made that day, she wrote.

A day later, she said, DeArmond accused her of being an alcoholic and unfit mother, and took away the family car so she and the kids could not go anywhere.

The couple appeared at a court hearing May 16, and the judge ordered the restraining order in effect until Aug. 1.

DeArmond met Zaleha in 1995 while she was traveling in California, her brother said. The two were married a year later. He told a Singapore newspaper last week that his mother had told him that "there were squabbles" between the two.

Star-Bulletin reporter Debra Barayuga
contributed to this report.

E-mail to City Desk


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