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News / Clark County News

‘It all happened so fast’: Wife of late Vancouver police Officer Sahota testifies in murder trial

Dawnese Sahota described for the jury the chaotic scene at the couple’s Battle Ground home

By Becca Robbins, Columbian staff reporter
Published: May 9, 2024, 6:22pm
2 Photos
Dawnese Sahota gives emotional testimony Thursday during the murder trial of the Yakima man accused in the January 2022 death of her husband, Vancouver police Officer Donald Sahota. Dawnese Sahota described fearing for her life when she was confronted by the armed robbery suspect her husband had unsuccessfully tried to detain in their Battle Ground driveway.
Dawnese Sahota gives emotional testimony Thursday during the murder trial of the Yakima man accused in the January 2022 death of her husband, Vancouver police Officer Donald Sahota. Dawnese Sahota described fearing for her life when she was confronted by the armed robbery suspect her husband had unsuccessfully tried to detain in their Battle Ground driveway. (Contributed by KGW-TV ) Photo Gallery

Vancouver police Officer Donald Sahota’s widow wiped tears from her face as she testified Thursday in the murder trial of the Yakima man accused in her husband’s January 2022 death.

Dawnese Sahota described for the jury the chaotic scene at the couple’s Battle Ground home the night her husband died. She said she heard gunfire erupt and feared for her life as she was confronted by the armed robbery suspect her husband had unsuccessfully tried to detain in their driveway.

“It all happened so fast,” she said. “We heard — there were shots. And I wasn’t sure where they came from. I was just so shocked because there was a stranger in my house, right here in front of me, and I didn’t know if he fired those shots. And I thought I was shot, but I didn’t go down.”

Julio Segura, 22, is accused of stabbing Donald Sahota multiple times as the two struggled in the driveway. Moments later, Clark County sheriff’s Deputy Jonathan Feller arrived and mistakenly shot the off-duty officer on the porch of the Sahotas’ home. Although the Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office found Donald Sahota died from the gunshot wounds, an autopsy determined his stab wounds were life-threatening.

Prosecutors argue Segura’s actions caused Donald Sahota’s death. He is charged with three counts of first-degree murder and one count each of attempted first-degree murder, second-degree murder, attempted first-degree kidnapping, first-degree burglary, first-degree robbery, possession of a stolen motor vehicle and attempt to elude a pursuing police vehicle.

Every seat in the gallery of Clark County’s courtroom 301 was taken Thursday, most by those there in support of Dawnese Sahota. Some observers sat on the floor to hear her testify.

Dawnese Sahota appeared somber as she recounted how strange it was for someone to ring the doorbell of their home — in a remote, wooded area — at that time of night. She said she and her husband were seated for a romantic lobster dinner at the time.

She became nervous about the urgent way the person repeatedly rang the doorbell, she said. She began dialing 911 while her husband grabbed his gun from above the refrigerator and answered the door, she said.

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She recounted her conversation with 911, which the jury heard earlier in the week.

Dawnese Sahota began crying when she described seeing her husband and Segura fighting in the driveway. She said she saw Segura repeatedly hit her husband, and she didn’t know at the time Segura was stabbing him.

Segura eventually broke away from her husband and began running toward the door, she said. He pushed the door open forcefully, she said, and she heard her husband yell, “My wife’s in there!”

The door hit her in the head, she said. The jury saw photos of a large bruise on her forehead.

She said she and Segura were standing behind the door when they heard gunfire. She said when she realized she hadn’t been shot, she turned and ran.

Segura chased her throughout the house, she said, and she feared she would die if she didn’t get a door open or around a corner before he caught up to her. But she made it into the garage and pressed the button for the garage opener.

“I thought, ‘OK, I’m going to die in my garage now because there’s no way I can get out of my garage before the door opens,’ ” she said.

When she made it outside, the officers who’d arrived in their driveway yelled at her to put up her hands, she said, and then ushered her behind them to safety.

She sobbed as she said all she could think about was helping her husband.

“I just wanted to go to my husband,” she said through tears. “I obviously knew he was hurt, but I didn’t know what had happened.”

In the afternoon, after her testimony, Dawnese Sahota sat in the gallery with significantly fewer observers.

An emergency department doctor from Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center testified about evaluating the wound on Dawnese Sahota’s head. He said he prescribed her anti-anxiety medication because she was very distraught.

“I see people who are traumatized every day, but this was extraordinary,” Dr. Marlow Macht said.

Trial is scheduled to resume Monday with more state’s witnesses.

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