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Published: Tuesday, 9/15/2009

Toledoan found guilty of killing his girlfriend

A Toledo man was found guilty Monday of killing his live-in girlfriend and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Donald Traviss, 36, of 2575 Eastgate Rd., Apt. 12, entered an Alford plea to involuntary manslaughter with a gun specification and was found guilty Monday by Lucas County Common Pleas Court Judge Gene Zmuda.

In an Alford plea, the defendant maintains his innocence or does not admit he committed a crime, but still pleads guilty because he believes it's in his best interest. The court treats it as a guilty plea.

Traviss was sentenced to a mandatory three years for the gun specification and seven years for the manslaughter charge for the April 7 shooting death of Melanie Golden, 35, in the couple's home.

Mr. Traviss told police that the two had a fight and he took the gun from her after she pointed at him, and he didn't know it was loaded.

He initially reported the incident that occurred about 12:40 a.m. as a suicide, but later admitted he shot Ms. Golden.

In a statement to the court, her family described Ms. Golden as a loving person who cared deeply for her nieces and nephews.

The family said they don't understand how this could happen and while they grieve for her, it's a great loss to her nieces and nephews.

“I am angry that someone she loved could point a gun at her and shoot her,” the statement reads. “I feel that we have been sentenced for a lifetime. Therefore, I think that Donald Traviss should be sentenced to the maximum allowed.”

Mr. Traviss' attorney, Ronnie Wingate, said his client was intoxicated at the time and that this never would have happened otherwise.

“He not only took away a daughter, sister, and an aunt, but he also took away his soulmate,” Mr. Wingate said. “Even though the family may never forgiven him, we know for a fact he will never forgive himself.”

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