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Man who fatally stabbed girlfriend 50 times testifies in his punishment trial

October 23, 2018 GMT

A Livingston man who fatally stabbed his girlfriend 50 times in November 2016, told a Galveston County jury on Monday that he snapped after she called him a rapist and that stabbing her so many times was an “out of body experience.”

Jesse Dobbs, 23, who on Sept. 11 pled guilty to the murder of Kirstin Fritch, 16, and is standing trial to determine punishment, took the stand for the first time in his punishment trial for nearly two hours of cross-examination. He candescribe da childhood of neglect and transience that included him committing sex crimes against minors, stints in juvenile detention and rehab, and eventually spiraled into a full-blown crystal meth addiction.

Dobbs was the last of over 30 witnesses to testify on the sixth day of the trial, which included closing arguments from both the prosecution and defense before the jury broke for deliberations on Dobbs’ punishment. Judge Lonnie Cox, who is presiding over the trial in the 56th District Court in Galveston, ended the day’s proceedings at 6 p.m. because the jury had not yet reached a verdict.

Deliberations are set to continue Tuesday.

Dobbs, who took the stand Monday morning wearing a black shirt and pants with a striped tie, was initially questioned by his attorney, Jyll Rekoff, who had him detail his upbringing in Florida, where Dobbs engaged in sexual acts with minors that he said he learned from watching pornography. By the time, Dobbs moved to Texas with his father, his family wanted little to do with him, leading him to start using meth regularly.

The Livingston man’s drug addiction served as the backdrop to a series of decisions, failed job opportunities and broken relationships that led him to Houston and eventually, Baytown. While living in Baytown in September 2016, he met Kirstin Fritch via Facebook — he said she initially messaged him “somehow” — whom he began dating shortly after.

Dobbs told the jury that Fritch was different than other girls he had dated in the past because she didn’t judge him for his criminal history.

“I told her everything in my past,” Dobbs said. “I felt like if I tell you this and you accept me, then it’s meant to be.”

But Dobbs later testified that Fritch breaking that trust is what led him to snap and stab her repeatedly. He said that the weekend of Fritch’s murder, he and Fritch planned to run away to Dallas after she got in a big argument with her mother, Cynthia Morris, 37.

While driving around aimlessly with Fritch, Dobbs received a phone call from the mother of his two children, Dallas Hay. She asked if he knew anything about an Amber Alert posted about Fritch’s disappearance and that he was a person of interest in the murder of Morris and Fritch’s 13-year old sister, Breanna Pavilicek, who were shot to death in Morris’ home in Baytwon.

Those murders remain unsolved, though Baytown Police have maintained that Dobbs is the primary suspect.

In the car, Dobbs said that he asked Fritch about what happened to her mother and sister and she began acting “weird” and “paranoid.” He suggested they split up temporarily, and meet back up in the woods near Texas City so he could call a friend for advice. When they met again, Dobbs told Fritch he called a friend and that Fritch “got really mad” and started yelling and screaming at him, eventually wrestling on the ground as she tried to break his phone. Dobbs said eventually Fritch told him that she killed Morris and Pavilicek “for me,” and that “they had to go.”

“She kept saying, ‘If you leave me, I’m gonna tell them you did it and they’re not gonna believe you,’” Dobbs said, his voice trembling.

Dobbs added that Fritch said to him, “they’re not going to believe you because you’re a rapist,” adding an expletive.

“I just got so mad, I pulled out my knife and started stabbing her,” Dobbs said, saying it was like an “out of body experience.”

In their closing arguments, prosecutors Bill Reed and Matthew Shawhan casted Dobbs’ account as one of pure fantasy spun by a “master manipulator” who “wiped out an entire family.”

“At the end of the day, this person entered these people’s lives, they’re dead within a month and he’s still standing,” Shawhan said.

While Dobbs could face 5 to 99 years or life on the first-degree murder charge, if the jury agrees to a sudden passion finding, the prison term would be capped at 20 years.

nick.powell@chron.com