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Suspect’s Children Call Him Mild Man : Trial: Slain woman’s husband is ‘really mellow guy’ who never threatened her or demonstrated anger, two of them testify. Another daughter tells of mother’s loan-sharking activities.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Two of the three children of a La Canada Flintridge man on trial for killing his wife testified Tuesday that their father is a mild man who never got angry or threatened their mother.

Donald H. Miralle, 17, called Don Jr., testified that his father, Donald B. Miralle, “is a really mellow guy” who “never gets mad, never shows his emotions.” He and his sister Dawn, 15, said they never knew their father to be violent.

Their testimony came in the second week of the defense portion of Miralle’s trial in San Bernardino Superior Court. The trial began in September and is expected to finish in November.

Donald B. Miralle, 47, a civil engineer in Pasadena, is accused of strangling his wife, Tessie, then burning her body on a desert road near here more than a year ago.

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Tessie Miralle, 49, disappeared Sept. 12, 1990. Miralle was arrested Oct. 3, 1990, but was released on $500,000 bail a month later and has lived at his Descanso Drive home with his three children since.

Earlier in the trial, the couple’s older daughter, Anita, 20, testified about her mother’s loans of money to friends at high interest rates. Defense attorneys have said that Tessie Miralle ran the equivalent of a loan-sharking operation and that that might have provided a motive for others to kill her.

The defense portion of Miralle’s trial opened last week with a continuing attack on a vital part of the circumstantial case against him: tire tracks from the site where Tessie Miralle’s body was found. Prosecutors say the tracks came from Donald Miralle’s Chevrolet Suburban.

But testifying for the defense, Bill Sage, Miralle’s Pasadena office landlord and owner of a Union 76 station in the same building, said he patched Miralle’s left front tire in July, 1990.

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Earlier, a former tread designer for Firestone Tire & Rubber had testified that he believed wear patterns on Miralle’s left front tire matched patterns on tread imprints photographed near Tessie Miralle’s body.

The tire expert, Peter McDonald of Hudson, Ohio, testified that he did not see a patch on that tire.


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