Alleged break-in and fight preceded boyfriend’s stabbing
ST. PAUL -- When her boyfriend broke into her house through a window, a pregnant St. Paul woman grabbed a knife and used it, she told police. Natalie Jonelle Pollard, 33, was charged Monday with second-degree unintentional murder in the death of ...
ST. PAUL - When her boyfriend broke into her house through a window, a pregnant St. Paul woman grabbed a knife and used it, she told police.
Natalie Jonelle Pollard, 33, was charged Monday with second-degree unintentional murder in the death of Obinna Udo Nwankpa, 30, the father of her unborn child.
Pollard made her first court appearance Monday afternoon, when bail was set at $750,000.
Pollard was arrested Thursday after she called 911 to report a break-in. Police found Nwankpa unconscious and bloody at the bottom of the basement stairs. He died a short time later.
The Ramsey County medical examiner ruled Nwankpa’s death a homicide and said he bled to death from a stab wound to the chest.
According to a criminal complaint, police were called to Pollard’s townhome in the 600 block of Burr Street about 4:30 a.m. Thursday. Pollard told dispatchers that her boyfriend had broken into her home and was locked in the basement with a knife. Asked if anyone needed medical attention, Pollard reportedly said the man was cut.
Responding officers found Pollard in the living room, her shirt covered in blood, the complaint said. They also saw blood at the top of the basement stairs, on the stairs and in the basement near the washer and dryer.
Nwankpa was lying at the bottom of the stairs, struggling to breathe. Officers noted what looked like a stab wound to his chest. He was transported to Regions Hospital about 6 a.m., where he died.
Pollard told investigators that Nwankpa had been staying with her for about five months. She said he left earlier but came back and entered the home through a window. They began arguing, the complaint said.
Pollard initially said Nwankpa had the knife but later changed her story.
“When he entered the home the second time, through the window, she followed him to the basement and picked up the knife,” the complaint said. “She held it behind her back. She said she had it for protection.”
Pollard said Nwankpa came at her and the two fought, during which she swung the knife. She admitted she either cut or stabbed him, the charges said.
A sweep of the house revealed Pollard’s four children upstairs, the complaint said. It’s unclear whether they witnessed the stabbing. Neighbors have said they appear to be elementary-school age children.
Police found a black-handled knife in the kitchen garbage; Pollard had told them she threw it there before officers arrived at her home, the complaint said. She said that the knife had been Nwankpa’s, but that she found it under the mattress and “kept it for herself,” the complaint said.
Friends and neighbors confirmed that Pollard and Nwankpa had been dating, and said the couple’s relationship had recently become rocky. The two had fought in June and Pollard hit Nwankpa with her car, acquaintances recalled.
Nwankpa, who alternated between staying with Pollard and a sister in Oakdale, reportedly moved to the Twin Cities from Chicago about four years ago. One friend said Nwankpa has a 4-month-old daughter who lives with her mother in Illinois.
According to court records, Nwankpa was charged in December in Anoka County with domestic assault against another woman who called him her boyfriend at the time.
He pleaded guilty in February to interfering with a 911 call, was sentenced to two years’ probation and ordered to complete domestic abuse counseling and treatment. In 2011, Nwankpa was convicted of domestic battery in Illinois and received a misdemeanor sentence, the Anoka County complaint said.
Pollard’s criminal history includes traffic violations and a disorderly conduct conviction in 2004, which was dismissed when she met conditions in the case.
Pollard had been the victim of domestic abuse at the hands of a different man, according to court documents. A man was charged with assaulting Pollard in 2012, when she was pregnant with their third child, according to a criminal complaint and a petition she later filed for an order for protection. The man was convicted of burglary for entering her home without consent. That home is the place where Thursday’s homicide occurred.
When she was arrested Thursday, Pollard told police that Nwankpa had assaulted her in the past but that she never reported it.
The complaint doesn’t say what the couple was fighting about before the stabbing, but Pollard said Nwankpa had been drinking and, at one point, was playing music and being loud and she asked him to leave. He returned at least once asking to retrieve some belongings, she said.
When an investigator told Pollard that Nwankpa had died, “She cried and said, ‘I’m sorry, God.’”
Supporters who sat in on Monday’s court hearing declined to speak with a reporter.
Pollard’s next court hearing is scheduled for Aug. 3.
The Pioneer Press is a media partner of Forum News Service.