“If I can’t have you the way I want you, I’m afraid I’ll do something I regret.” Just weeks after that text message was sent, a suitcase was discovered by trash bins outside a San Diego hotel with black hair coming out of the zipper. Locked into a tight fetal position was the nude body of 21-year-old Shauna Haynes. Joshua Palmer, 32, who’s prophetic words to Haynes shortly before her death, must now stand trial for her murder. According to prosecutors, Palmer raped, beat and strangled Haynes on April 5, 2016. Shocking evidence was revealed at Palmer’s preliminary hearing on September 7, 2016, before Superior Court Judge Louis Hanoian.
Palmer Wanted a Romantic Relationship with Haynes & Was Getting Aggressive
Shauna Haynes and Joshua Palmer were co-workers at the Old Spaghetti Factory in downtown San Diego. He was a waiter and the petite Haynes was a busser. Diana Gonzalez, a co-worker testified that she was friends with Palmer and he told her that he wanted to date Haynes, but Haynes did not feel the same way. Haynes, though, was going to move into Palmer’s apartment as she needed to escape sexual abuse at her own home, and was already staying over some nights at Palmers. Gonzalez said that only a few weeks before Haynes’ death, Palmer expressed frustration with the situation and said if Haynes “didn’t put out soon, she would have to leave.”
Malik Collier, a friend of Haynes from high school testified that Haynes confided in him that Palmer was getting aggressive with her and then showed him the text message, “If I can’t have you the way I want you, I’m afraid I’ll do something I regret.” Collier told her to stay away from Palmer.
Palmer’s Statement Before Haynes’ Body Found
Samantha Joyce, who worked as a hostess and promoter at Gaslamp BBQ, testified she met with Palmer on Tuesday, April 5, 2016. Prior to their meeting, he sent her text messages saying something had happened last night, that he and Chelsea, Haynes and another man had a sexual encounter. When Joyce finally met with Palmer in person, he described how Haynes wanted to stay with him in his apartment, they got in an argument, and he crossed the line sexually. Palmer said he had sex with Haynes, and had anal sex where he ejaculated. Joyce further testified that Palmer said that Haynes was afraid to fall in love with him.
Palmer’s Statement on the Day Haynes’ Body Found
On Wednesday, April 6, 2016, the day Haynes’ body was discovered by hotel workers, Palmer met with Gonzalez and told her that a body had just been found in a suitcase at his apartment complex, and he was worried about Haynes. He went on to tell her that on Monday night, April 4, 2016, he and another woman went to his room and were joined by Haynes and a random guy that she had just met. They drank and engaged in a foursome. Haynes then decided she did not want to do this anymore, and she left his apartment naked, wrapped in a blanket, with her nose bleeding from using cocaine.
A Night of Sex: The Foursome
Deputy District Attorney Martin Doyle called Chelsea Shea to the witness stand to detail what happened the night of the foursome. She testified that she met Palmer at a bar on Easter of 2016, and they became friends. On the night of April 4, 2016, she agreed to meet him at Gaslamp BBQ, where they ate and drank. She then walked with him to The Chadwick residency hotel, where he lived, arriving around 2:30 a.m. They drank some more and started to have sex, but Palmer was unable to obtain an erection. Haynes and a guy named “Tony” came to the apartment and started to have sex on the bed. They told her to continue with Palmer, but he still could not get an erection. Shea then joined Haynes and Tony and had sex with them for 15-20 minutes, while Palmer watched. Suddenly, Palmer asked them to leave. They got dressed and asked Haynes to leave with them, but she said she wanted to stay. The next day, Shea received a text from Palmer saying that he hooked up with Haynes, and that she didn’t want to fall in love with him so she was going to disappear.
Text Messages to Haynes Found on Palmer’s Cell Phone
On the day Haynes was found in the suitcase, Palmer called 911 and reported his girlfriend missing testified homicide detective David Spitzer. At the police station, while questioning Palmer, the detective noticed Palmer’s knuckles were red on both hands. A search warrant was issued for Palmer’s home and cell phone.
Detective Spitzer read text messages recovered from Palmer’s phone, which Palmer initially sent to a group of people, then solely to Haynes, although she was already in his apartment. On April 5, 2016 at 2:20 a.m., Palmer wrote “OMG. It just turned into a foursome.” At 2:25 a.m. Palmer wrote to Haynes, “I’m going to kill myself. Enjoy. Thank you for killing any hope I have.” At 2:29 a.m. Palmer wrote, “I am sorry. I love you. I accepted my place as your friend but I can’t watch you make love to someone else. I know it’s selfish, but I can’t take it. I’m not good enough, but two total strangers are? It just destroyed me.” The detective continued to read more messages, including, “God, please understand I’m sorry. I’ve never wanted anything more in my life than the way I want you. You don’t want me. I get it. It hurts because I’m so much better than the other people in your life.”
Disturbing Videos Found On Palmer’s Cell Phone
Mark Gonyea, a FBI computer forensic specialist testified he retrieved 15 deleted videos from Palmer’s cell phone. On one video, Palmer engages in a sex act with Haynes after Shea and Tony left the apartment. Police believe that Palmer then beat and strangled Haynes to death before recording the following video, time stamped at 3:44 a.m.: “I just slit my wrists. I’m using this moment or two that I have to say goodbye. To say I’m sorry. I let a lot of people down. I tried to be good, but I wasn’t good enough.” Although the video does not show Palmer’s face, the white shorts with a blue distinctive pattern that Palmer was wearing the same night in the hotel surveillance tape are visible.
The prosecution continued showing more videos, time stamped 6:02 a.m., 6:51 a.m. and 6:53 a.m., where the camera scans up and down the nude body of a female, while the person filming gropes her and then digitally penetrates her. Public Defender Katie Belisle brought out on cross examination that the videos don’t actually show who is filming, but the prosecution proved the cell phone belonged to Palmer and Detective Spitzer testified he recognized Palmer’s voice. The time of Haynes death was estimated between 4:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m., which means Palmer engaged in sex acts with a dead woman. Other videos show unconscious women being touched, with the identity of the women still unknown.
Blood Evidence & Medical Examiner’s Cause of Death
Criminalist Tess Hemmerling testified she found blood evidence through luminol testing on the north wall, above Palmer’s bed, and the southeast area in front of the freezer and closet. The blood was that of Palmer and Haynes, and it “looked like a cleanup job.”
Bethann Schaber, a deputy medical examiner testified the cause of death was strangulation, with the deceased suffering a fractured hyoid bone in her neck from some blunt force trauma. There were abrasions and contusions on the mouth and body, and lacerations and tears in the anal rectal area. The toxicology report showed no drugs or alcohol.
Palmer Ordered to Stand Trial for Murder
Judge Louis Hanoian said the evidence met the probable cause standard and bound Palmer over for trial on murder charges, with special circumstance enhancement, that the death occurred during the act of rape, sodomy or rape by instrument. Palmer had been initially held on $2 million bail, but with the addition of the special circumstance enhancement, Judge Hanoian ordered Palmer to be held without bail. His arraignment is set for September 22, 2016. Palmer faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted at trial.
To See Photos of Shauna Haynes, Joshua Palmer, and Media Coverage of the Case, Please Go To The Following Links: