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Marine accused of killing stripper wife to stand trial

By KELLY WHEELER

City News Service

A Miramar-based Marine must stand trial on a murder charge in the strangulation death of his 19-year-old stripper bride of two months, who was killed while she slept in their Mira Mesa apartment, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Lance Cpl. Patrick Thomas Poteat, a 21-year-old electronics technician, faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted in the Jan. 5 death of Kalyn O’Barr-Poteat.

San Diego police Detective Mike Holden testified during a 90-minute preliminary hearing that he and other officers drove to the Joshua Tree area the morning of Jan. 5 and brought him back to San Diego for questioning.

“He said he murdered his wife by strangulation,” Holden testified.

The defendant told detectives that he strangled his wife in bed with an electrical cord, Holden said.

Poteat told the detectives that as he was strangling his wife, she woke up and said, “I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe,” but he continued the attack, Holden testified.

The defendant said he tried to cut his wrists and cut an extra piece of cord to kill himself, but was unsuccessful, the detective testified.

Holden told defense attorney Michael Rios that Poteat cried during the police interrogation.

“He said he never should have done that,” Holden testified. “He didn’t know why he did it. Then he said he murdered her.”

Poteat said he and his new wife had been arguing and arguing, but not on the day she died, Holden said.

The defendant said a recent argument led him to go back to his home in Georgia over the Christmas holiday, the detective testified.

While there, the victim sent her husband text messages saying she was going to leave him, Holden testified.

Poteat said he wasn’t jealous of his wife but didn’t like what she did for a living, the detective said. The defendant said he didn’t want to be a hypocrite because he had met his wife while she was working as a stripper, the detective said.

Poteat’s supervisor said the defendant told him he was having “issues” with his wife.

Marine Cpl. Kody Fletcher said he referred Poteat to a staff sergeant so he could get counseling.

“I kept asking him how it was going,” the witness testified. “He didn’t go into details.”

Fletcher said he got a text from Poteat on Jan. 4 after the Marine didn’t return to Miramar as scheduled. Poteat said he was stuck in Dallas but was on his way back to San Diego, the corporal testified.

Fletcher said he told Poteat to contact his sergeant right away. The witness said he got another text from Poteat the next morning, saying, “I just want to give everyone one last goodbye.”

After contacting his supervisor, Fletcher said he got another text from Poteat that read, “Please call 911. The door is locked. They need to kick it in. She is on the bed.”

Fletcher told Rios that the defendant was a good Marine with a great work ethic. Poteat never displayed anger nor mentioned anything about his wife cheating on him, Fletcher testified.

Sgt. Patrick Sherrick, who lived in the same apartment complex as the defendant, said he went there the morning of Jan. 5 and saw Poteat getting into his car.

Sherrick said he yelled out to Poteat, but the defendant got on his car after glancing the sergeant’s way.

“I was shocked,” Sherrick said of Poteat’s actions.

When authorities got into the Hillery Drive apartment, they found the victim dead with scratches on her neck, prosecutor Dan Link said.

An autopsy determined that the young woman, who worked as a nude dancer at Goldfingers Gentlemen’s Club under the name “Darla,” had been choked to death.

Police also found a signed note from the defendant on the refrigerator admitting to the crime, Link said.

According to published reports, the victim had called her mother in Georgia and said she was growing afraid of her new husband’s temper.

Judge Kenneth So ruled that enough evidence had been presented at the preliminary hearing for Poteat to stand trial on a murder charge. A Superior Court arraignment was scheduled for May 12, when a trial date could be set.