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Paul Kovacich’s daughter, girlfriend testify

One witness recalls surprising comment said at Auburn fair
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
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ROSEVILLE - Paul Kovacich’s daughter and girlfriend discussed the former Placer County Sheriff’s Office sergeant’s character and relationships with his family Wednesday at the end of his four-month long trial. Paul Kovacich has pleaded not guilty to murder with the use of a firearm in the Sept. 8, 1982 death and disappearance of his wife, Janet Kovacich. Wednesday afternoon, both the prosecution and defense rested their case. Wednesday morning, Paul Kovacich’s daughter, Kristi Kovacich, continued her testimony about what she could remember about her father’s relationship with her grandparents and memories of their family dogs. Kristi Kovacich, whose long dark hair and wide smile mirrored that of her mother’s in pictures shown by both the defense and prosecution, was calm throughout her testimony. Kristi Kovacich, who is 32 now but was about 7 years old when her mother disappeared, said she never remembered an instance of verbal or physical abuse between her parents. She said she never saw her father kick their family dogs, Fuzz and Adolph. She said she remembers Fuzz being sick in August 1982 before he died later that month. Upon answering questions, Kristi Kovacich said her dad never told her not to talk about her mother, and never asked that she not talk to Janet Kovacich’s mother and father. “I do remember my grandmother talking to me about my dad,” Kristi Kovacich said. “I don’t remember the exact words, but I remember feeling like she did not like him.” In response to a question from a juror, Kristi Kovacich said she did not invite her mother’s parents to her high school graduation because she did not like the way they treated her father. “I was very upset with the way they treated my dad,” Kristi Kovacich said. “I didn’t feel it was acceptable.” She said the family kept the same P.O. box address and same phone number in case her mother ever tried to contact them. The defense later called forward Sharon Roloff, a former Placer County sheriff’s dispatcher and community service officer. Roloff said she knew the Kovacich couple socially a few years prior to Janet Kovacich’s disappearance. Roloff was asked about a specific incident that occurred at the Auburn fair in the late 1970s. Roloff testified at that time her then-husband told her he had heard Paul Kovacich openly call Janet Kovacich a “Mexican whore.” Roloff stressed that she had never heard the comment herself and was only told about it. She later testified she had never heard Paul Kovacich demean his wife before. Later in the afternoon, Dixie King, Paul Kovacich’s long-time girl friend, was the final witness for the defense. King said she and Paul Kovacich have had a personal relationship for the past 24 years. Prior to her testimony and without the jury in the courtroom, the prosecution and defense argued in front of Judge Mark Curry what could be asked of King. “The court is quite surprised that the next defense witness is Dixie King,” Curry said. Curry further explained that he worried about the relevance and legal issues surrounding her testimony. He stressed that he did not want a separate “mini-trial” to begin about the testimony from a woman who started a relationship with the defendant about a year after the disappearance of his wife. Curry ruled that King could not discuss in detail her opinion of Paul Kovacich’s non-violent nature but she could discuss his actions toward his children. King was also not allowed to testify about what Paul Kovacich had told her in regards to his wife’s disappearance or any search attempts. King worked for the Placer County Sheriff’s Office for about 16 years and then worked for the county District Attorney’s Office for about eight years before retiring. King testified about how she came to know Paul Kovacich in the fall of 1983. Later that year, she began taking care of his children and would help them with their homework and school activities. She said during that time, Janet Kovacich’s clothes were still hanging in the closet and her cosmetics were still in bathroom drawers. There were also pictures of her with her children and family throughout the house. In late 1984 or early 1985, she and Paul Kovacich developed a personal relationship, she said. It was also around that time the she moved into a new house with Paul Kovacich, his children and her then-17-year-old son. She described Paul Kovacich as a “caring father” who was involved in his children’s activities. She testified that Paul described Janet Kovacich as “gorgeous and a wonder mother.” The Kovacich trial will resume at 9 a.m. Tuesday in Dept. 33 in the Bill Santucci Justice Center in Roseville. The Journal's Jenifer Gee can be reached at jeniferg@goldcountrymedia.com or post a comment.