The man accused of fatally stabbing his former wife Saturday evening had been held to stand trial on a domestic violence charge against her in July.
But Sacramento County district attorney's officials dropped charges that could have put James Nash Galvan, 38, in prison for at least two years if convicted, court records show.
Sarah Lynn Randone, 48, called on the criminal justice system again to protect her the day she died. But Sacramento County sheriff's deputies determined that Galvan -- who was in Randone's Cottage Way apartment complex -- was not in violation of a restraining order she had obtained against him. Deputies asked him to leave, officials said.
Galvan allegedly returned Saturday evening and stabbed Randone to death as a friend looked on in terror.
Never miss a local story.
"I feel that if (sheriff's deputies) took him, it wouldn't have happened, she'd still be here," said Brandy DeLong, Randone's niece. "And again, way before that, during the trial. That animal shouldn't have been able to do that."
Court records and interviews reveal that Randone's case is complex. She utilized many of the protections afforded to domestic violence victims, but in stretches in between she invited Galvan back into her home.
DeLong said Randone was a loving and giving person who wanted to teach Galvan to read and get a job. But no one understood why she endured the abuse that she outlined in several restraining requests beginning in early 2005.
"I don't know what she was thinking," DeLong said of Randone accepting Galvan back into her home after his domestic violence case was dismissed. "Everyone was mad at her."
Domestic violence victims typically try to leave an abuser seven to eight times before they break all ties, said Stephanie Bamberger, a managing attorney for WEAVE, a Sacramento group that advocates for domestic violence victims.
"There's fear, they still love the person, this is someone they had a relationship with," she said. "It's very common."
Randone testified against Galvan in March in a preliminary hearing on charges of domestic violence and criminal threats.
Sitting feet from Galvan in court, Randone described incidents in January 2006 in which he choked her, forced her to have sex with him and threatened her with duct tape and a sharpened letter opener.
On Jan. 4, she said in court, she returned to her Carmichael home and found him crouched with a brass letter opener with the word "imagine" carved in the handle.
"He said ('I have to kill you') over and over again as he was twisting the thing in his hand, the letter opener," Randone testified.
On Jan. 25, Galvan pinned her down and began choking her, "saying, 'Goodbye, Sarah,' " she testified.
That day, she said, he forced her to have sex with him.
Deputy District Attorney Samantha Tali said during the hearing that Galvan would not be charged with rape. Court records do not indicate a reason.
At the end of the March 24 preliminary hearing, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Gerald Bakarich ordered Galvan to stand trial on the charges of domestic violence and criminal threats.
Galvan pleaded not guilty. But District Attorney Jan Scully's office dismissed all charges.
Scully spokeswoman Lana Wyant said that decision arose because of inconsistencies in Randone's statements, accounts that couldn't be corroborated and a lack of medical evidence.
Randone also had discovered Galvan was having an affair the day before she accused him of abusing her, Wyant said, something Randone denied when confronted with the information.
Wyant also said it would be hard to prove that Galvan made threats that put Randone in fear for her life because she visited him in jail after the alleged threats were made.
"We look at everything," Wyant said. "We didn't think we could prove this victim's allegations beyond a reasonable doubt."
Sacramento County Sheriff's Sgt. Tim Curran said that after Galvan was released from jail last summer, Randone picked him up and allowed him to live with her.
But that arrangement did not last.
Randone called deputies Friday evening after telling DeLong that Galvan had tried to choke her that morning.
Later Friday, Randone left her poodle with her niece, saying she was afraid Galvan would kill it.
When deputies went to her Cottage Way apartment, she told them she'd been in an argument with Galvan and wanted a standing restraining order -- in effect until 2009 -- enforced.
"She said, 'I don't want him arrested, I just want him out of here,' " Curran said.
Randone spent the night in a hotel, and managers at her apartment complex changed her locks.
The next morning, she called deputies again to stand by while she gathered things from the apartment. Galvan was in a nearby unit.
Curran said he does not know if Galvan was at least 100 yards away -- the distance set out in the restraining order.
Deputies watched Galvan give his apartment key to Randone and asked him to leave.
DeLong said Randone went shopping with friends Saturday. When she returned and put the key in her apartment door, Galvan pulled it open and began to stab Randone, Curran said.
Deputies were called once again at 7:16 p.m., this time to chase Galvan after he allegedly stabbed his former wife and ran into the path of a car on Cottage Way.
He was booked into jail Monday on a charge of homicide and is expected to be arraigned today.