‘We Forgive the Man Who Murdered My Nieces'

The family of a murdered pregnant woman talked about forgiveness Friday as her killer was sentenced to 75 years to life in state prison.

Roger Jerone McDowell, 35, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder for shooting his ex-girlfriend six times. Dawnna Denize Wright, 31, at her workplace after showing up with a bouquet of roses.

“I want everybody to know that we do forgive the man who murdered my nieces, my two nieces… and thank everybody for what they have done for our family,” Dawnna’s aunt, Stephanie Blackwell said.   “Dawna was a very loving person. She will always be in my heart.

McDowell admitted killing Wright and her female fetus.  Under a plea bargain, special circumstance allegations of multiple murders and lying in wait were dismissed, allowing McDowell to avoid a possible death sentence.

“What happened was horrible, but we can’t let him take away the spirit of her daughters growing up and living a wonderful life,” Robinson said.  “I have to forgive, because I’m Christian and I have to forgive, and I do forgive, but she’ll never be forgotten and the deed will never be forgotten.”

McDowell drove to a doctor's office on June 12, 2007 where Wright worked as an office manager. He shot the victim in the head and neck, according to evidence presented at a previous preliminary hearing. Wright and her unborn fetus died.

Another employee told police that he was in a room with Wright when he heard someone enter the waiting room, San Diego police Detective Maria Rivera testified. The employee, Manual Duarte, saw a man with a bouquet or flowers, and then returned to his desk. Duarte next heard Wright say, "I'm not going to accept those flowers," followed by loud popping noises, which he thought were balloons, Rivers testified.

McDowell called 911 after the gunfire and said he had just shot his ex-girlfriend, Detective Brett Burkett testified.

“When Dawnna was taken from us, a big void was left in our family, not only for just her children and her mother and brother, but also for her entire family,” Robinson said.

Wright and McDowell had two other children together. They had what friends called an "on-again, off-again" relationship, police said. The victim's female fetus was about 12 weeks old, said Stanley.

“It’s not the same without her.  Life will never the same, but you know we have to go on and make sure her daughters are taken care of and her memory lives forever,” Dawnna’s cousin Cherie Robinson said in court. 

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