Crime - Sacto 911

Fleming ‘felt like a zombie’ before fatally stabbing girlfriend

The murder trial of Orville Fleming, here at his arraignment May 20, began Monday in Sacramento Superior Court.
The murder trial of Orville Fleming, here at his arraignment May 20, began Monday in Sacramento Superior Court. rpench@sacbee.com

Orville Fleming told a Sacramento Superior Court jury Tuesday he “felt like a zombie” the night he fatally stabbed Sarah Douglas, his girlfriend, in May 2014.

“I got sweaty and I just lost it. I felt like a zombie. I went to the kitchen, got that knife, went back to the bedroom and stabbed her right here,” he said to questions from his defense counsel Peter Kmeto, pointing to his right clavicle. “I was looking down at her and there was blood everywhere.”

Fleming took Douglas’ pulse, left their bedroom, then returned to take it again. “There was no pulse. I grabbed my keys and ran.”

For most of three hours Tuesday before Judge Sharon A. Lueras, Fleming, the 56-year-old former battalion chief, coolly charted a volatile relationship with Douglas, the final blow-up after her night out with her sister and mother that led him to stab and strangle Douglas to death in their suburban Sacramento County bedroom early May 1, 2014.

He then spent 16 days cowering under brush before his arrest at a community college’s bus stop.

His voice broke as he described the 26-year-old Douglas’ final moments and how he ended her life in chilling detail before a silent courtroom.

Vicious insults flew back and forth via text, then face-to-face through the house after Fleming startled Douglas in the home’s hallway, Fleming testified. It was a pattern of hostility that defined their brief, troubled relationship.

Douglas would be dead minutes later and Fleming was on the run, climbing into his California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection service truck, heading for the railroad tracks and what he hoped would be his own fatal date with a freight train.

He couldn’t do it, he said, and returned home to end his life there. Fleming testified he tried to asphyxiate himself with gas in a garage sealed with moving blankets, then attempted to kill himself by slashing his wrists in a bathtub of warm water, before fleeing the house once again for the acreage behind his Fox River Drive home.

“I probably stayed there well through the night. The helicopters came up and down the train tracks there,” he said. After daylight, Fleming headed for home yet again and the night in his bedroom came into even sharper focus.

“I looked for a distance and I see all the trucks in front of my house, so I turned around real quick, I go back to the bushes and hide myself there,” Fleming said. “I’m realizing what has happened. I was the one who did it. In two or three months, we were going to be married and I kill her. I can’t believe that I did it.”

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