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Shirley Anne Nelson dies at 78

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Shirley Ann Nelson, the Santa Rosa woman who shot her estranged husband a decade ago while he was at work at the office of ?Peanuts? cartoonist Charles Schulz, has died.

Nelson, 78, died in Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital on Jan. 30, two months after she incurred colon cancer, according to her death certificate.

Nelson was sentenced to a year in jail, five years probation and 3,000 hours of community service in 1997 for attempting to kill her husband Ronald Nelson, who was business manager for the late Peanuts cartoonist.

He was wounded twice in the July 5, 1995 shooting. Shirley Nelson then turned the gun on herself in an unsuccessful suicide attempt.

She later told police she tried to kill her husband because he?d left her for another woman.

A jury deadlocked 9-3 in favor of her acquittal after she was tried for attempted murder in 1996. Nelson claimed she was emotionally unbalanced and temporarily insane when she brought a loaded handgun to her husband?s office and opened fire.

The Sonoma County District Attorney?s office was preparing for a second trial when Nelson accepted a plea bargain that allowed her to avoid a lengthy term in state prison. As part of her sentence, she also served 18 months of home confinement.

In recent years, she had reverted to her maiden name, Shirley Spencer.

Her death was not announced in the obituary pages and the funeral home that handled her remains was asked not to comment.

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