Dorenbos Guilty Of Killing Wife -- Children See Father Convicted Of Murder

When he first explained to police why he beat his wife, Kathy, to death with a grinding tool, Alan Dorenbos told them he "lost it."

Shortly after Dorenbos was convicted yesterday afternoon for second-degree murder, a family spokesman made it clear much more was lost than Dorenbos' temper - and his wife's life.

"The children have lost a father and mother," said Stephen Whitehead, Kathy Dorenbos' cousin. "This is really very difficult for everyone."

The three Dorenbos children, in court since the trial began last week, were on hand when the verdict was read. The oldest child, a senior at Woodinville High School, put his head in his hands. The 15-year-old daughter wept. The 12-year-old son looked straight ahead toward his father, who showed little emotion.

According to court officials, the older son wants to remain in the area through the school year, but the daughter and younger son may move to California to live with relatives.

"There's quite a bit for us to sit down and think about now," Whitehead said. "We just don't have any idea what's going to happen over the short term."

Dorenbos, who claimed the assault on his wife was in self-defense, faces 10 to 13 years in prison, according to King County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Rebecca Roe.

In convicting Dorenbos, the jury of eight women and four men deliberated for five hours over two days.

Dorenbos, a 40-year-old computer-sales consultant and former Little League president, admitted he killed his wife last August but claimed it was unintentional and in self-defense.

Those were key points in closing arguments Wednesday by Tony Savage, Dorenbos' attorney.

Savage reminded the jury that second-degree murder is without premeditation. He went over points he made earlier in the trial - that Dorenbos claimed his wife was unhappy and occasionally went into tirades. Dorenbos said that's what happened on the evening of Aug. 2, when his wife came at him with a sledge hammer in the garage of their Woodinville home.

Dorenbos testified his wife was upset about a dispute they'd had earlier that day over their older son wanting to use the family van to drive to a baseball camp in Bellingham.

But Roe countered that Dorenbos did not kill his wife out of fear, and even if he had, the self-defense provision of the law only allows a person to use force "reasonably necessary" for protection.

Kathy Dorenbos, 40, had nine to 11 head wounds, according to the King County medical examiner's office. She also had injuries to her hand, suggesting she was covering her head to deflect the blows.

Roe said Dorenbos lied about the tirades and she noted that several witnesses - including the couple's sons - testified they had never seen her react that way.

Roe suggested to the jury that Dorenbos killed his wife after she picked up the telephone and overheard a conversation between him and another woman.

According to Roe, Dorenbos was infatuated with the woman, whom he'd met through Little League. The woman testified that Dorenbos had told her he and his wife planned to separate in the fall Following yesterday's verdict, Roe said she was happy the case was over but was sad for the family.

"I am glad the jury followed the law and reached the right decision," Roe said. "Given the family's tragedy, I'm sure it was a hard decision."

Whitehead said it was difficult for the children to sit through the trial, particularly during the graphic testimony about their mother's death.

"The children wanted to know what happened," Whitehead said. "They didn't want to have questions later on in life about what had taken place. They needed answers."