Calif cannon death suspect has criminal history

A man suspected of igniting a homemade cannon that exploded and killed his live-in girlfriend had a criminal history that included violence against the woman, records show.

Two years ago, suspect Richard Fox, 39, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge that he committed battery against girlfriend Jeanette Ogara in 2006, U-T San Diego ( reported, citing court records.

Fox was placed on probation and ordered to complete a 52-week domestic violence recovery program. The probation expired in January.

He also served at least three prison sentences in the 1990s for auto theft and weapons possession convictions.

Fox was expected to be charged later Thursday with willfully and maliciously exploding a destructive device causing death, said Steve Walker, a spokesman for the San Diego County district attorney's office.

Fox remained jailed pending arraignment, and it was not immediately clear if he had obtained an attorney.

The handyman was arrested after the makeshift cannon went off just after midnight. He may have been drinking when he lit the fuse to a 21-inch-long, 2-inch-thick steel pipe that he had stuck into the ground outside his home, authorities said.

The tube was packed with powder taken from fireworks and some kind of projectile.

Ogara, 38, was struck in the chest by shrapnel that tore into the couple's trailer home in Potrero, a tiny rural community near the Mexican border.

Investigators did not immediately determine whether the death was accidental or may have involved foul play, authorities have said.