Local News

Prosecutor: Fiance Of Slain Teacher Looked At Life Insurance Policy

Posted November 13, 2002 2:40 a.m. EST

— Investigators say a man accused of strangling his fiancee had checked on the status of her $750,000 life insurance policy.

Ian Campbell is charged with first-degree murder in the strangulation death of elementary school teacher Heather Domenie.

Assistant District Attorney Howard J. Cummings revealed the previously undisclosed detail Tuesday during a hearing on the status of pending murder cases in Wake County. He was detailing the state's reasons for seeking the death penalty against Ian Aulden Campbell to Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Donald W. Stephens.

Prosecutors sought the death penalty based on the nature of Domenie's injuries and the facts surrounding the insurance policy application, Cummings said. At a hearing last month to officially notify Campbell's attorneys, Cummings offered no explanation for the decision to seek the death penalty.

Prosecutors contend that Domenie was strangled in the couple's Cary home July 25.

Domenie, 33, who taught first grade in Raleigh, had moved from Halifax, Nova Scotia, with Campbell, 29, almost two years ago. The couple planned to get married in September after putting off the wedding several times, Cummings said.

The insurance application did not list a beneficiary, and no money has been paid, Cummings said.

Campbell listened quietly as Cummings described the state's evidence against him. One of his lawyers, Thomas C. Manning, indicated the defense planned to use its own forensic experts to challenge an autopsy conclusion that Domenie died by strangulation.

Campbell told police on July 25 that Domenie had been sick all day. When he returned from buying her some Gatorade, he said, she was lying face down in their bed with a towel around her neck. He believed she might have choked herself.

Stephens refused to grant a request to allow Campbell to be placed on house arrest until his trial, tentatively scheduled for May 19.

As a Canadian citizen, Campbell could flee to Canada, where officials could refuse to return him for trial if prosecutors seek the death penalty. Canada abolished capital punishment in 1976.

Manning tried to assure Stephens that Campbell wasn't a flight risk by pointing out that he returned to North Carolina after attending Domenie's memorial service in Nova Scotia. Manning said Campbell could stay at a Raleigh apartment rented by his parents, who also offered to put up $750,000 in stocks as collateral against him fleeing.

If Campbell did flee, Manning said, the Canadian consulate promised to return him for trial. The Canadian government would need assurances that prosecutors would not seek the death penalty, Manning acknowledged.

Cummings countered that Campbell hadn't been charged with murder at the time of the memorial service. Cary police charged Campbell with first-degree murder three weeks after Domenie's death.

"When he left, he assumed the story he had given law enforcement was the story they believed at that time," Cummings said.

Court records later revealed that Campbell had been seen holding hands with another woman since Domenie's death. As a result, police searched the woman's Raleigh apartment and found a guide to planning a Las Vegas wedding.

An autopsy report by a medical examiner who examined Domenie's body July 27 said there were ligature marks on her neck, two puncture wounds on her upper left arm and a pair of bruises with puncture wounds on the left side of her neck. A few days before her death, Domenie was reported to have had several days of nausea, vomiting and fever, the autopsy reported.

The autopsy concluded that Domenie was strangled.