Crime - Sacto 911

Ex-Cal Fire battalion chief to stand trial for murder in girlfriend’s slaying

Former Cal Fire Battalion Chief Orville Fleming, center, shown during his arraignment in May, has been ordered to stand trial for the murder of his girlfriend Sarah June Douglas, who was stabbed to death.
Former Cal Fire Battalion Chief Orville Fleming, center, shown during his arraignment in May, has been ordered to stand trial for the murder of his girlfriend Sarah June Douglas, who was stabbed to death. rpench@sacbee.com

Former Cal Fire Battalion Chief Orville “Moe” Fleming is scheduled for a March 17 murder trial for the bloody killing of his girlfriend this year in the home they shared in south Sacramento.

Following a brief preliminary hearing Tuesday in Sacramento Superior Court, Judge Allen H. Sumner held Fleming, 56, to answer for murder in the stabbing death of Sarah June Douglas, 26.

Deputy District Attorney Noah Phillips called only two witnesses at the hearing and defense attorney Peter Kmeto did not ask any questions.

Sheriff’s Detective Jason Lonteen testified that Douglas’ sister told investigators she heard the victim arguing with Fleming on the phone around the time of her death, shortly after midnight on May 1.

The disagreement, Stephanie Douglas said, appeared to stem from Fleming’s suspicion about what Sarah Douglas had been doing earlier that night, according to Lonteen’s testimony.

The detective said Stephanie Douglas told him that the two women and their mother had gone to the Red Hawk Casino in Shingle Springs.

Stephanie Douglas said that after she took her mother home, she dropped off her sister at the Fox River Way home where she was slain, Lonteen testified.

When she called her sister later that night, Stephanie Douglas said, she heard the sound of trouble on the telephone, according to Lonteen’s testimony.

“There was an argument on the phone between Sarah and Moe that seemed to escalate,” Lonteen said. “There was name calling and direct threatenings going on back and forth. (Stephanie Douglas) characterized Sarah’s statement to her, that Moe didn’t believe her about where she was the night before, and she heard her sister call Moe ‘a bitch.’ She heard a loud scream from Sarah and the phone cut off.”

Stephanie Douglas said she immediately tried to call her sister back and that she then sought to text her, Lonteen said, but she was unable to get through. The next day, the detective said, Stephanie reached a friend and the two of them went to Sarah’s house and found her body in the master bedroom with large amounts of blood splattered on the wall and elsewhere, with a sheet tied around her neck.

Sacramento sheriff’s Detective Zachary Rose testified that a coroner’s report showed Sarah Douglas had been stabbed nine times.

A neighbor told Lonteen that she “heard a female scream the words ‘Help me,’ around 12:30 a.m. After that, she heard a male talking in a low voice,” Lonteen testified. “She characterized it as if he was talking to himself, almost mumbling. There was no response from any other party.”

Lonteen testified that investigators found Fleming’s Cal Fire truck later that day about 2 miles away near a bus stop at the corner of Black Kite Drive and Apricot Woods Way in Elk Grove. Bloodstains were found on the truck’s interior as well as on the outside of the driver’s side door and a tool container in the back, Lonteen said.

Fleming was arrested on May 16 while hiding in a bush not far from where he lived with Douglas.

Call The Bee’s Andy Furillo, (916) 321-1141. Follow him on Twitter @andyfurillo.

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