A San Diego County man who allegedly ignited a homemade cannon that exploded and killed his live-in girlfriend was charged with murder on Thursday.
Prosecutors said Richard Fox was drinking with his girlfriend and friends Tuesday at the home in Potrero, a tiny rural community near the Mexican border. Fox went outside and lit the fuse to a 21-inch-long, 2-inch-thick steel pipe that he had stuck into the ground outside, authorities said.
The tube was packed with powder taken from fireworks and some kind of projectile. The girlfriend, 38-year-old Jeanette Ogara, was struck in the chest by shrapnel that tore into the home. Fox injured his leg.
Fox, 39, was also charged with exploding a destructive device and child endangerment, because the couple's sleeping 4-year-old daughter was in their trailer home at the time of the blast. The child escaped unharmed.
Fox pleaded not guilty, and Superior Court Judge Charles Ervin set bail at $3.5 million. If convicted of all charges, Fox faces life in prison without parole. He remained jailed, and it wasn't immediately clear if he had obtained an attorney.
Two years ago, the handyman pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge that he committed battery against Ogara in 2006, U-T San Diego (http://bit.ly/weX65z) reported, citing court records.
Fox was placed on probation and ordered to complete a 52-week domestic violence recovery program. The probation expired in January.
He also served at least three prison sentences in the 1990s for auto theft and weapons possession convictions.