Coalinga murder suspect had 'dark side' despite minimal criminal history

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A look behind the curtains of a Coalinga family's life reveals troubling details leading up to Friday when an 84-year-old man shot and killed his wife.

A look behind the curtains of a Coalinga family's life reveals troubling details leading up to Friday when an 84-year-old man shot and killed his wife.

"The facts by themselves are pretty bizarre: just walking up to his wife and shooting her," said legal analyst Tony Capozzi.

Clarence Kozlowski's only prior conviction Action News found during a search of court documents was for soliciting a prostitute in 1989, but family friends say he hid a dark side.

Between that and his mental health, this shooting will put his entire life under a microscope.

What homicide detectives found at a Coalinga home last Friday may not be as significant as what they discovered in the past.

Friends say Clarence Kozlowski's family lived in fear of the 84-year-old and suffered abuse at his hands for decades without calling the police for help.

Just minutes before he allegedly shot and killed his wife, investigators say she called a family member and said to call 911 because he was about to kill her.

"With that kind of evidence, that would tend to lead to first-degree murder," Capozzi said.

He says there's evidence of premeditation there, but Kozlowski's mental status will be a focus in the case.

He had some previous mental health issues, but legally owned the weapon he used.

"The defense will look at that," Capozzi said. "Whether they can make a relationship with that prior mental illness or any mental defect at that time, can they related it to the shooting now? That'll be the issue."

A judge wouldn't allow our camera to record Kozlowski's first court appearance, but he sat in a wheelchair and answered questions from the judge.

Capozzi says it'll be a while before it's clear where this case is headed.

"Yes, there might have been some prior threats, but anything threatening with a gun before?" he said. "Was there any noticeable difference in his personality through the recent past to this happening? A lot of factors will come into play, but I think this is going to be a battle of psychiatrists."

Kozlowski didn't enter a plea Wednesday. He's scheduled to do that next week after the public defender figures out who should be his attorney.

In the meantime, his bail is set at $1.5 million.

Family friends told us they're concerned if he gets out, he's going to "finish the job."

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If you, or someone you know, is the victim of domestic violence, there is help available.

The Marjaree Mason Center has a 24-hour crisis hotline (559) 233-HELP (4357) and more resources are available at mmcenter.org
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murderdomestic violenceCoalinga
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