Crime - Sacto 911

What happened to man who fled to France in 1990s after killing his former girlfriend?

Q: I believe in the late 1990s a man murdered his live-in girlfriend on Morning Dove Lane in Folsom, then fled to the San Francisco airport to leave the country, dropping the couple’s very young toddler off in an industrial area near the airport. I believe he flew to Europe. Can you fill in the details and whether he was caught and prosecuted?

The Badge, Roseville

A: James Dewayne Nivette, a former psychologist and San Juan Unified School District researcher, pleaded guilty in August 2003 to the second-degree murder of his former girlfriend and was sentenced to 18 years to life in prison.

Now 74 years old, he is at the California Institution for Men in Chino.

According to stories in The Sacramento Bee, Nivette shot Gina Barnett, 25, more than a dozen times Nov. 16, 1997, at the Folsom condominium the two once shared. Police described the murder as a rage killing, saying Nivette became angry when Barnett started dating a younger man.

Nivette lost his license to practice as a psychologist in 1995 for having sex with three of his clients. He also was on probation for misdemeanor assault against Barnett at the time of her death. She obtained a restraining order against him a month earlier.

After shooting Barnett, Nivette was accused of taking the couple’s 18-month-old son to San Francisco International Airport and abandoning him in a nearby industrial park before boarding a plane to France. The boy was found unharmed and was living with his mother’s relatives at the time of Nivette’s sentencing.

Nivette fled to France, where he said he had dual citizenship. He was arrested Nov. 20, 1997, by French authorities in Munster, a tourist village, where he owned a three-story flat. He spent nearly four years fighting extradition before being returned to the United States in July 2001.

Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy