Former Moorpark planner who killed Simi Valley woman was accused of beating another girlfriend in 1980s

Paul Porter

Paul Porter

Former Moorpark city planner Paul Porter, who suffered a fatal heart attack after allegedly killing an old girlfriend in Simi Valley last week, was accused of trying to kill a different girlfriend in 1982, according to news reports back then.

Porter, who was working as a planner for Ventura County in 1982, allegedly attacked his then-girlfriend, Patricia Jacobson, who also worked for the county at the time. He eventually pleaded no contest to assault with a deadly weapon and received some jail time and probation.

Simi Valley police believe Porter, 66, of Scottsdale, Ariz., beat and fatally stabbed retired teacher Janice Somple, 65, on May 31 in her Simi Valley home, then suffered a heart attack and crashed his truck while fleeing the scene. He later died at a hospital.

Porter and Somple dated more than 15 years ago but seemed to part ways on good terms, police said.

Asked about the 1982 case, Simi police spokesman Sgt. Craig Dungan said in an email Thursday that "detectives believe they have a complete perspective of Mr. Porter's criminal history." He did not elaborate, however, and police are not commenting about a possible motive in the Somple slaying.

Jacobson, who was 26 and living in Camarillo, alleged Porter beat her with a rubber mallet and fractured her skull in August 1982, according to news reports in the Ventura Star-Free Press, which is now part of The Star.

In the transcript of a preliminary hearing held in September 1982, Jacobson testified she had been trying to break up with Porter for about six weeks before the assault. They had been dating for about eight months, she said.

On Aug. 16 of that year, she was bicycling home after work — she had told Porter earlier in the day that she wanted to break up — when he pulled over in a county car to talk to her near Sturgis and Pleasant Valley roads, according to her testimony. Both were regular cyclists and joggers and sometimes rode from work together.

Porter told her he was upset about the breakup, she told the court. "We discussed that calmly, coolly, collectedly," she testified.

Porter asked her to go with him to check out a lot behind the former Egg City chicken farm in Moorpark that was up for a zoning change, so they loaded her bike into his car and drove up Grimes Canyon Road, according to the news reports. They continued a conversation while walking around the undeveloped property.

As night descended and they began to walk back to the car, Jacobson turned around and saw Porter holding a mallet. He struck the back of her head, she testified, and she passed out.

When she awoke, she recalled saying: "Oh my God, Paul, I thought I died. Help me."

Instead, he came over, sat on top of her and struck her on the back of the head about five times with the mallet. She passed out again. When she awoke, she was able to get the mallet and toss it aside. Porter then choked her until she passed out, Jacobson testified.

He then said, "It's all over," and told her he had dislocated his thumb.

"Here's your evidence," she recalled him saying before he handed her the mallet.

According to news reports, however, there was insufficient evidence to show Porter intended to kill her. For one thing, he stayed with her after the attack, reports said.

Porter, who was 37 and living in Oxnard at the time, pleaded not guilty to an attempted murder charge and no contest to assault with a deadly weapon. He faced up to four years in prison but continued to work for the county through a work furlough program, despite the victim's plea to have him jailed.

He was placed on supervised probation and ordered to spend weekends and week nights in jail for a year.

Jacobson filed a restraining order against Porter and later sued him for damages, news archives show.

Jacobson could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Porter later worked as a planner for the city of Moorpark, from 1989 to 2005, when he retired.

Kim Hocking, a retired county planner who was Porter's supervisor in 1982, said the incident and Porter's continued presence created an awkward work environment.

"As a fellow employee and supervisor, it was an extremely difficult situation to be in," Hocking said Thursday. "There were employees who disagreed ... and I tried to explain to them that it wasn't my decision. I was just trying to do the best I could."

He said Jacobson worked in a nearby office and continued to bump into Porter.

"I was in the middle of it," Hocking said. "I was grilled by the sheriff's and district attorney's office. I knew all the details." Hocking said Porter was a hard worker whose ethic didn't change after the conviction. He left under good circumstances to work for Moorpark, Hocking recalled.

He said Porter was a sociable person who would often go running with co-workers during lunch hour. He and Porter lost touch when he left the county job, Hocking said.

"It's a sad story," he said of last week's deaths.

© 2012 Ventura County Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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