This week marked the start of the murder trial for Thomas Michael Wilhelm, a 52-year-old California man who allegedly shot his ex-girlfriend to death moments after listening to the Guns N’ Roses song “Used to Love Her,” which contains the lyric, “I used to love her, but I had to kill her.”
Prosecutors allege that Wilhelm shot 45-year-old Christine Marie Murray in 2012, soon after the couple’s relationship and business partnership crumbled, according to court records.
Prosecutors said in court on Wednesday, as the trial got underway, that Wilhelm allegedly plotted Murray’s murder as revenge for her intended acquisition of his sprinkler business, a court clerk present in the courtroom tells PEOPLE.
Wilhelm’s defense countered that he was intoxicated and emotional the night of the shooting, the clerk says, and jurors have been asked to consider his psychological state during his alleged acts.
He had owned the sprinkler business for more than two decades, court records show.
Prosecutors said in court that after hitting hard times, Wilhelm asked Murray to buy into his floundering business, the court clerk confirms. Two years later, after the relationship ended, Murray declined to part with her half of the business and wouldn’t move out of Wilhelm’s home.
So Wilhelm allegedly forced his way into a neighbor’s home the night of July 8, 2012, and stole a gun, prosecutors said, according to the clerk. Soon after, he allegedly texted a friend to say he’d been listening to the Guns N’ Roses song.
The song’s lyrics reference the murder of a nagging girlfriend who is then buried in the subject’s backyard — six feet under, frontman Axl Rose sings, “and I can still hear her complain.”
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Prosecutors allege Wilhelm secured the couple’s dogs in a bedroom before shooting Murray six times. Murray’s niece, who also lived in the couple’s home, returned from the store to find her slowly-fading aunt, prosecutors told the court on Wednesday.
Murray allegedly told her, “Tom shot me, call 911. I’m dying” before losing consciousness.
Murray’s young son was home at the time of her killing and ran to a neighbor’s home for help, prosecutors said. Wilhelm allegedly attempted suicide as police responded to the home, but his gun misfired, court officials confirm.
Prosecutors allege that after police handcuffed him, Wilhelm said, “Please tell me she’s dead,” court officials tell PEOPLE.
The defense told the jury, however, that Wilhelm was highly intoxicated the night of the murder and was distraught over the idea of losing his business to Murray, according to court officials.
Wilhelm had also ingested prescription pills that evening, the defense said, and lost control.
Neither his defense nor the prosecution immediately returned messages, and PEOPLE could not reach the Murray family.