UPDATE: Victim identified, DA announces sentence sought against her husband, updates throughout . . .
Santa Ana Police say Michael Eugene Upton told them he and his wife lost their jobs, burned through their cash and were about to be evicted. Fearing life on the streets, he is said to have told cops, they made a pact.
The 57-year-old is accused of shooting his wife Melva Upton, also 57, in the head as she slept in their bedroom, consuming several Valium to do himself in and calling 9-1-1 to report what he had done.
The pills did not do the trick, and Upton now faces a murder rap.
The Orange County District Attorney's Office has announced that, if convicted, the minimum sentence he could get is life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Officers arrived about 6:40 a.m. Wednesday to the Uptons' unit in the South Coast Racquet Club Apartments, which is in the 1100 block of West Stevens Avenue, directly across Sunflower Avenue from the Orange County Performing Arts Center.
There they found the woman who had been shot to death and the weapon that presumably did the job.
Upton was taken to a hospital for treatment from the effects of having consumed all that medication. After he was released is when he allegedly told detectives about the murder-suicide pact.
Police say the couple had no record of domestic violence.
The DA's statement on Upton's scheduled 10 a.m. arraignment today follows:
July 1, 2010
HUSBAND CHARGED WITH MURDERING WIFE BY SHOOTING HER IN HEAD AS SHE SLEPT
SANTA ANA - A husband has been charged with murdering his wife by shooting her in the head as she slept after becoming upset over the couple's financial problems. Michael Eugene Upton, 57, Santa Ana, is charged with one felony count of murder with the special circumstance of murder by lying in wait and a sentencing enhancement for the personal discharge of a firearm causing death. If convicted, he faces a minimum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Upton is being held without bail and is expected to be arraigned tomorrow, Friday, July 2, 2010, at 10:00 a.m. in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana.
The defendant lived in a Santa Ana apartment with his 57-year-old wife, Melva Upton, and was upset about their financial troubles caused by the couple's lengthy unemployment. At approximately 6:40 a.m. on June 30, 2010, Michael Upton is accused of murdering his wife by shooting her one time in the head as she slept. He is accused of taking several Vicodin pills before calling 911.
Santa Ana police officers discovered Melva Upton's body in the apartment and transported Michael Upton to the hospital to be treated for the excessive Vicodin consumption.
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Senior Deputy District Attorney Mike Murray of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.
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