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Lawyer says teen stabbed mom in eye

Trial of H.B. teen accused of murdering her mother begins with prosecution painting the daughter as a master manipulator.

June 18, 2008|By Michael Alexander

Like many teenage girls, Huntington Beach resident Rachael Mullenix told her mother she hated her and didn’t want to live with her anymore, according to prosecutors. But then, prosecutors said, Mullenix and her 21-year-old boyfriend made sure of it — with several knives.

The prosecution made opening arguments and called a few witnesses Wednesday in the murder and conspiracy trial of Mullenix, who turned away as Deputy Dist. Atty. Sonia Balleste showed jurors her mother a picture of Barbara Mullenix’s slashed body as it appeared when it washed up at the Newport Harbor Yacht Club on Sept. 13, 2006.

In her opening argument at the Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana, Balleste painted Mullenix as a master manipulator who had gotten her way her entire life, and who went into a rage when her mother finally stood up to her. The triggering moment, she said, was when Barbara Mullenix decided to ground her and prevent her from seeing her boyfriend, Ian Allen, after she broke curfew.

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“It’s unacceptable to this defendant,” Balleste said. “Not just the kind of unacceptable that a teenager who wants their way would feel. This defendant is outraged. Nobody says no to Rachael Mullenix. Nobody. Not even her mother. And she’s not going to stand for it.”

Mullenix shrank away when Balleste pointed her out to the jury, but throughout most of the proceedings sat impassively with her eyes down. She appeared to be sobbing quietly at one point as jurors grimaced at the sight of Barbara Mullenix’s corpse.

David R. Cohn, Mullenix’s lawyer, told the judge he would hold off on an opening argument until it was time to present his case.

Testimony began with Newport Beach police officers describing their discovery of the body at the yacht club, covered in stab and slash wounds, as well as bags full of items linked to the victim in a nearby Dumpster. Prosecution and defense sparred over forensic evidence presented that afternoon by Orange County Sheriff’s crime lab scientist Mary Hong that showed Rachael Mullenix’s DNA on a sponge and pillow slips found in one of those bags, as well as a gun carried by Allen when the pair were arrested.

Cohn focused on where the DNA wasn’t: the knife.

“There was no match or contribution on the knife in the victim by Miss Rachael Mullenix, right?”

Correct, Hong replied.

But neither was anyone else’s DNA, except that of the victim, Balleste said.

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