Crime

Kristen Word: Killed in Paso Robles in 2001

Kristen Word
Kristen Word

Kristen Word, 19, and her 5 1/2-month-old fetus were shot to death by her boyfriend while visiting a family friend in Paso Robles.

Shannon Jacobs of San Bernardino, a college student and casino cook, abruptly shot Word five times in November 2001.

Five of six psychiatric experts who evaluated Jacobs concluded he was psychotic, and he was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison for the murders of his girlfriend and unborn child. That was the maximum term allowed under the conditions of Jacobs' plea agreement.

Before his sentence was read, Jacobs said mental illness led him to kill.

"I'm not an evil, cold-blooded person," Jacobs said, reading a prepared statement through tears. "And I can honestly say I was not in my right mind when this tragedy occurred."

Had there been a trial and a jury believed Jacobs was legally insane, he would have been sent to a state hospital for indefinite treatment. If they didn't think he was insane, Jacobs could have faced life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Jacobs began acting bizarre and paranoid just three days before the murder, Jacobs' lawyer said, suspecting co-workers were trying to get him fired. He told his mother he thought someone was out to kill him, and he suspected someone was bugging his cell phone. The day before the murder, Jacobs sat in a hotel chair with a gun in his lap, waiting for someone to come after him.

The prosecutor, Karen Gray, acknowledged Jacobs was paranoid, but she said it wasn't because he was delusional. He was a $400 a week marijuana dealer who had recently burned a customer he feared would seek revenge.

That and other stresses, she said, led Jacobs to become enraged at his girlfriend.

"He was 19 years old. He was flunking out of school. He was doing badly at his work. He was dealing drugs, and here comes his girlfriend now who's pregnant," Gray said. "One more problem to deal with."

Jacobs' attorney, Jim Maguire, acknowledged that his client sold marijuana and had smoked a small amount that weekend. But, he said, psychiatric evaluations and drug tests prove that the shooting had nothing to do with drugs.

"Mr. Jacobs is a 20-year-old man who does not have the sophistication to fool five psychiatrists," Maguire said.

After his arrest, Jacobs received medication at the County Jail. Soon after, Maguire said, he cried in his cell for a month.

Gray said any tears shed by Jacobs were for himself.

"He killed her intentionally," she said. "Now he feels sorry for himself. Because now he has to accept the consequences."

During the hearing, Jacobs' mother wept in the audience. On the other side of the room, Word's mother, father and sister called for the maximum sentence.

Krystal Word -- the victim's identical twin -- said a selfish act took her sister. At the time she said she kept photos of her sister in her room and remembers how they would tell each other, "I love you, twin."

Now, she said, she's tormented by the death of her mirror image.

"I lie in bed at night wishing I had a chance to tell my twin goodbye," she said.

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