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Woman recounts boyfriend's decapitation

LARGO — Monique Pennywell awoke to the sound of glass breaking. She was in bed with her new boyfriend, Gregory Shannon. She dialed 911. Her voice seemed remarkably calm the morning of Feb. 4, 2002.

That changed when her schizophrenic ex-boyfriend, Dennis George Roache, charged into her bedroom and attacked Shannon.

"He's got a machete and he's killing him!" Pennywell screamed to the 911 operator.

Roache felled Shannon with a slash across the lower back. Pennywell locked herself in the bathroom.

She relived all that Friday as she testified at Roache's first-degree murder trial. Jurors also heard the tapes of her 911 call.

Pennywell testified that Roache threatened Shannon, then ruthlessly attacked.

"I told you to stay away from my damn baby momma's kids," Roache told Shannon.

"Okay man," Shannon told him. "Okay man."

That's when Pennywell said she hid. Yelling can be heard on the 911 tape. When Pennywell emerged, Roache was gone — with Shannon's head.

"Please hurry up, please" she cried to 911. "I'm scared. You've got to lock this crazy man up."

That's exactly what the defense wants the jury to believe: that Roache was insane, that the mentally ill 40-year-old could not have committed premeditated murder.

But the state argues it was jealousy, not insanity.

Pennywell says he chased off her children's fathers with baseball bats. She tried to get a restraining order against him. When Shannon died, Pennywell was three months pregnant with his child.

When she emerged from the bathroom, Shannon's headless body lay at the foot of the bed.

"Did I kill this boy?" Pennywell cried on the 911 tape. "He's only 18. He ain't never caused no problems."

The trial resumes Monday.

Jamal Thalji can be reached at or (727) 893-8472.

Woman recounts boyfriend's decapitation 09/26/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 2, 2008 8:32pm]
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