Retired Ventura County judge kills girlfriend, self, police say

VENTURA, Calif. (KABC) -- A retired Ventura County Superior Court judge shot and killed his girlfriend before turning the gun on himself Monday morning, according to authorities.

Ventura police said they responded to the 5500 block of Dorsey Street at about 11 p.m. on Sunday for a call of a domestic dispute. Upon arrival, officers reported hearing multiple gunshots within the home.

Hostage negotiators communicated with 69-year-old Herbert Curtis III for three hours before they rushed into the home.

When they entered the home, officers said they found Curtis dead from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Officials said Curtis' girlfriend, 54-year-old Patricia Payne, was found alive and rushed to the hospital where she later died from multiple gunshot wounds.

Curtis was the nephew of famed boxing promoter Don King and was Ventura County's first, and to date, only African-American judge.

During his time on the bench, Curtis presided over at least 18 murder trials. He married three times and was the father of two daughters.
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