Crime

Fresno man to stand trial on murder charge in fiancée’s death

Stanley Pipes, 55, of Fresno, is accused of fatally shooting his fiance inside his Sunnyside home in December 2015. A judge ruled Wednesday that he will stand trial on a murder charge in connection with the killing of 62-year-old Kristie Claassen.
Stanley Pipes, 55, of Fresno, is accused of fatally shooting his fiance inside his Sunnyside home in December 2015. A judge ruled Wednesday that he will stand trial on a murder charge in connection with the killing of 62-year-old Kristie Claassen. Fresno County Sheriff’s Office

A Fresno man will stand trial on a murder charge in connection with the fatal shooting of his fiancée inside his Sunnyside home in December last year, a judge ruled Wednesday in Fresno County Superior Court.

Judge Edward Sarkisian Jr. made his ruling after Stanley Pipes’ stepson testified that Pipes told him that he had shot 62-year-old Kristie Claassen.

“She’s gone,” Pipes, 55, said in telephone conversation, according to his stepson, Joseph Newton, 37, of Fresno.

When Newton asked Pipes what he meant, Newton testified that his stepfather told him “he had shot her.”

In addition, detectives found a letter in Pipes’ home. In the letter, the writer identifies himself as Pipes and says he shot Claassen.

She’s gone.

Accused killer Stanley Pipes allegedly told his stepson

Prosecutor Gabriel Brickey said the killing happened in the morning of Dec. 28 inside Pipe’s home on the 1000 block of South Rogers Lane near Kings Canyon Road and Clovis Avenue.

Forensic pathologist Michael Chambliss testified that Claassen was shot four times in the head and twice in the chest near her right shoulder.

From the bullet evidence, Chambliss said one scenario is Claassen is first shot in the back of the head. She is then shot three times in the right side of her head and two times in the chest.

Chambliss said the victim had a 0.11 blood-alcohol in her body and traces of the pain killer Vicodin.

Sgt. Erich Garringer testified that dispatchers received a call from a man who was threatening to kill himself and reported that he has shot someone. When Garringer arrived shortly before 7 a.m., he testified he heard gunfire coming from inside his home. He and other deputies, as well as a sheriff’s dog, then went into Pipes’ home and discovered Claassen dead on the living room floor. He said the victim’s head was in a pool of blood.

Pipes was laying on a couch with a Ruger .357 revolver near his right hand, the sergeant said. Garringer said he grabbed the gun, uncocked it, and took Pipes into custody.

Homicide detective Jose Diaz testified that he found OxyContin in Pipes’ home. After his arrest, Pipes was first taken to a hospital because he was vomiting. He then was booked into the Fresno County jail.

Stanley Pipes’ stepson testified that Pipes was concerned that the victim was after his home and money.

According to Newton, Pipes had been sad and depressed ever since his wife, Marilyn Pipes, 66, died in April 2013.

When Pipes started dating Claassen, Newton said at first he thought they would be a good couple because his stepfather was happy.

But as time passed, Newton noticed that Pipes was unhappy with Claassen, who had moved into Pipes’ home. Newton testified that Pipes told him that Claassen was after his home and financial assets. Pipes was concerned, Newton testified, because his stepfather needed his money to care for his mother, who was in a care facility. Pipes also was helping his autistic brother out financially, Newton said.

Newton also recalled that his stepfather had received a letter that warned him about Claassen taking advantage of other people. He recalled Pipes telling him that “he was upset that she was using him.”

Newton testified that Pipes became upset with Claassen after Pipes told him that Claassen had threatened to call the Sheriff’s Office to make a false claim of domestic violence against him. In October or November last year, Pipes and Claassen got into a verbal fight, Newton testified. He recalled going to his stepfather’s home and helping Claassen move her belongings back into her home, which was also in the neighborhood.

But sometime later, Claassen moved back into Pipes’ home, and they got engaged after they went through counseling to work things out, Newton said.

After Claassen was fatally shot, Pipes made several telephone calls from jail to relatives, sheriff’s Detective Adam Maldonado testified. The phone calls were recorded by jail staff.

In one of the calls, Pipes asked his aunt for money to hire a lawyer, Maldonado said. During the conversation, Pipes mentioned that Claassen “was trying to take everything he had,” Maldonado testified. Pipes also mentioned that Claassen had threatened to make a false claim of domestic violence, the detective testified, “and he said he couldn’t allow her to do that because he said he was protecting the best interest of his family.”

Pablo Lopez: 559-441-6434, @beecourts

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