To at least one outsider it appeared to be the perfect marriage - a husband and wife who spent a lot of time together and were each other's best friend.
But there was a darker side in the lives of Todd and Melissa Koolmo, marked by allegations of lesbian love affairs on her part, suicide threats apparently to gain sympathy on his part and bitter fights in which a gun was brandished, according to testimony in 3rd District Court on Monday.Todd Koolmo fatally shot his wife on March 18 during an angry quarrel, but he said it was an accident.
Judge Robin Reese found sufficient evidence to order Koolmo to stand trial on one count of murder, a first-degree felony. He will appear before Judge Robert Hilder for a scheduling hearing July 17.
Prosecutor Blake Nakamura argued that Koolmo intended to kill his wife because Koolmo had fired the gun twice, hitting Melissa Koolmo in the face and shoulder.
However, defense attorneys James Bradshaw and Mark Moffat appear to be seeking a lesser charge should the case go to trial based on Todd Koolmo's statement that he didn't think the gun was loaded and his state of mind.
Another factor in the case that was not heard at Monday's hearing was an e-mail message from Todd Koolmo to an Alpine police officer. "I am seriously considering doing the `deed' and then I'll have the last word," Koolmo wrote in a message sent to officer James Cowan, who later told police he thought Koolmo was referring to suicide.
Derrick Dearden, who with his wife rented a basement apartment from the Koolmos for about 18 months, testified that the Koolmos seemed to have a happy marriage. Dearden said he heard the Koolmos fighting perhaps two or three times, but they "were friends as well as husband and wife."
A visibly upset Todd Koolmo "burst" into Dearden's apartment March 18 and asked for help for his wife, Dearden said. "He was pretty hysterical," pulling his hair, shaking and repeating himself, Dearden said.
Upstairs Dearden saw a bleeding Melissa Koolmo on the couch and called 911 while Koolmo cradled his wife and told her to hang on, Dearden said. Koolmo left the home but called police to turn himself in about 30 minutes later.
Salt Lake police detective Mark Scharman testified that the Koolmos had an "unconventional" marriage and that "more and more, the idea of Melissa stepping out or how often was the cause of problems."
Melissa Koolmo had asked her husband to move out of the house and he had two backpacks filled with clothes. During the argument March 18, she handed him the .45-caliber handgun and suggested he kill himself, Scharman said.
"A gun had been used previously to gain sympathy, as it were," Scharman said. "The gun coming up in an argument was not a new thing."
Contrary to earlier news reports that both had been drinking heavily, the medical examiner's report showed no alcohol in Melissa Koolmo's blood. Todd Koolmo told police he had been drinking, but Scharman said Koolmo did not appear to be drunk.
Scharman also said Koolmo seemed to be more interested in himself and what would happen to him than his injured wife.
Utah Medical Examiner Todd Grey said Melissa Koolmo's wound was "quite destructive, quite jagged" because of the type of bullet that hit her.
The gun was loaded with Black Talon bullets. "It's not on the market for the average shooter," said State Crime Lab firearms expert Robert Brinkman. "It's hollow-nosed ammunition meant to expand."