Local Murder Case Looms

First Alameda homicide of 2015 happens a month before year ends

An Alameda resident confessed to Alameda police officers that she shot and killed her boyfriend as he slept inside an apartment complex last Thursday, Dec. 3.
Donna Marie Qualls, 54, called the Alameda Police Department (APD) last Thursday, and stated she shot her boyfriend Emmanuel Emmet Christy Sr. Officers arrived at the scene of the crime on the 700 block of Buena Vista Avenue at around 10:19 a.m. that morning to find Qualls. 
“Officers arrested her without incident,” said APD Lt. Jill Ottaviano. “She was cooperative and stated what happened.”
Ottaviano did confirm that the two were in fact in a dating relationship, but would not say if the two were living together. She declined to comment on what led Qualls to commit the crime or if the two had a history of domestic violence. 
“We don’t know if they had a history of calls to our emergency dispatch,” said Ottaviano.
After apprehending the suspect, officers searched the apartment for Christy’s body. Officers found his body shortly after. He was located in one of the bedrooms with a single gunshot wound in his head, according to reports. Christy, 73, was discovered deceased so there was no chance to offer assistance. 
“She shot him with a handgun,” said Ottaviano. “The weapon is now in our custody.”
A male relative of Qualls was at the scene when officers arrived at the apartment, Ottaviano said. He was not arrested and his name or relationship with Qualls was not disclosed.
“He was not connected to the crime in any way,” said Ottaviano.
Qualls was taken to Santa Rita Jail at 10:45 a.m. according to the Alameda County inmate reports. Alameda County prosecutors charged Qualls with murder on Monday, Dec. 7, after Qualls confessed to them that she committed the crime. She was also charged with one count of elder or dependent adult abuse in connection with Christy’s death. 
APD officers were stunned that Qualls confessed to her crime because it rarely ever happens.
“It’s usually doesn’t happen this way,” said Ottaviano. “It’s unusual for the person to commit the crime and then wait for police to show up. Usually we have to go through a long search for suspects.”  
Qualls had her plea hearing on Tuesday, Dec. 8, at the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse. She is being held without bail.
This is the first homicide in Alameda in 2015. According to city-data.com, Alameda has had 19 homicides since 2001 including the homicide of Christy. That means Alameda has had on average 1.26 homicides a year since 2001. The homicide rate is 1.7 per 100,000 people. Alameda’s most violent homicide year was 2009 when four people were murdered.
There was just one homicide in the city last year. Jerry Canfield, 73, of Alameda, was charged with murdering his wife Joann on Oct. 26, 2014. He too, like Qualls, notified police that he killed his loved one. He told police that he fatally shot his wife at their residence on the 2200 block of Clinton Avenue. Canfield said it was a mercy killing, a promise he made to her to take her out of her pain. JoAnn was plagued with chronic pain. They were married for 37 years. Their neighbors say they were very much in love. Canfield is charged with murdering his wife Joann and is being held at Santa Rita Jail on $100,000 bail. He’s facing one count of murder and one count of voluntary manslaughter. He pled not guilty. His next hearing is set for Jan. 14 next year.
Current California law makes no provision for a “mercy killing.”
“Nothing condones, authorizes, or approves mercy killing or permits an affirmative act or omission to end life other than the withholding of health care pursuant to a durable power of attorney,” the law states.