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Hearing for Man Accused of Killing Mother Delayed

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The arraignment of Michael Tonnessen, the 24-year-old man accused of stabbing his mother to death and knifing his father, was postponed Tuesday to give the public defender’s office time to assign him an attorney.

Tonnessen, whom sheriff’s deputies say became enraged when his 51-year-old mother confronted him Sunday about his excessive drinking and then stabbed both his parents, appeared in the Newhall courtroom shackled hand and foot to answer to murder and attempted murder charges.

Municipal Judge H. Keith Byram set Tonnessen’s arraignment for July 3. Byram also set the same date to address Tonnessen’s possible probation violation. He was sentenced in February to 10 days of community service and 24 months probation for reckless driving.

Tonnessen has been convicted at least three times of alcohol-related offenses, according to Los Angeles County court records.

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Neighbors reported Michael Tonnessen’s behavior seemed bizarre after the attacks, pumping his fists as if celebrating while his parents, Theresa and Kurt Tonnessen, lay bleeding in their front yard.

They were both taken to Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital in Valencia, where Theresa Tonnessen was pronounced dead.

Kurt Tonnessen, 53, an Emmy-winning cameraman on “The Tonight Show,” was released from the hospital Monday, hospital administrators said. In a show of support from his co-workers, host Jay Leno waved at the camera at the conclusion of Monday night’s “Tonight Show,” and said, “Kurt, we’re thinking of you.”

Before Tuesday’s court hearing, Deputy Dist. Atty. Ken Barshop said that Michael Tonnessen made a videotaped statement to homicide detectives but that it could not be described as a confession.

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He said that the weapon that detectives believe was used in the attack was a paring knife that Tonnessen allegedly took from the kitchen.

“I don’t how long the blade was,” Barshop said after the hearing. “It was described to me as a paring knife and I don’t know how many times the victim was stabbed.”


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