Musicians who killed people
Western swing artist Donnell Clyde Cooley, better known as Spade Cooley, became a music and television star in the late 1940s, eventually having a local variety show in Santa Monica, California. . But over time, his star power waned, leading to increased alcohol use and fits of rage. The Gothic Western website said Spade also abused his second wife, Ella Mae Cooley, whom he killed in 1961 at their home in Kern County, Calif., And that the case was one of the most important of its time.
Apparently Spade believed Ella Mae, whom he met when she first started singing in her band, was cheating on him. And in March 1961, she allegedly admitted to someone that she had an affair with singer and actor Roy Rogers in the early 1950s. Ella Mae also filed for divorce from Spade around this time, as well as custody of their three children Melody, Donnell Jr. and John Cooley. By Taste of Country, April 3, 1961, Spade beat and killed his wife, while forcing a 14-year-old Melody to watch.
He was arrested and charged, pleaded insanity but then withdrew that plea. Spade was convicted of first degree murder on August 19, 1961 and was sentenced to life imprisonment, but in 1968, after suffering ill health, his sentence was changed in 1970 by California State Adult Authority. He was then given a 72-hour pass to perform at a benefit show in Oakland on November 23, 1969, suffered a heart attack during intermission, and died at 58.
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. You can also find more information, resources and support at their website.