Prominent Ventura County judge dies in murder-suicide

Ret. Judge Herbert Curtis named murder suspect

Retired Ventura judge kills...

VENTURA, Calif. - Ventura police are investigating a murder-suicide that occurred at a home in the 5500 block of Dorsey Street in Ventura late Sunday night.

Police were called out to the scene just after 11 p.m. after neighbors called reporting a verbal argument, but retreated  to a safe location after hearing gunshots coming from inside the residence.

Members of the Crisis Negotiations team and SWAT were brought in to assist with negotiations with whom police said was a male occupant, later identified as 69-year-old Herbert Curtis, a retired Ventura County judge.

Police say Curtis told them he was armed with a gun and refused to come outside.

Police eventually learned about a woman shot inside the home after deploying a listening device into the residence. At about 2 a.m. Monday, SWAT entered the residence to rescue the woman.

Police discovered 54-year-old Ventura resident Patricia Payne inside the home suffering from multiple gunshot wounds, and immediately took her to an awaiting ambulance. She was taken to the hospital where she later died from her wounds.

Investigators also discovered Curtis inside the house with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

No one else was inside the home at the time the incident occurred. Evacuated neighbors waited in the Police Department's lobby until the incident ended. No officers were injured.

The Superior Court of California - Ventura County released the following statement:

"The Court acknowledges the passing of Judge Herbert Curtis, III, retired. Judge Curtis sat as a Judge for the Ventura County Municipal Court from 1984 until 1998. In 1991, Judge Curtis served as the Presiding Judge of the Ventura County Municipal Court. In 1998, Judge Curtis was appointed to the Ventura County Superior Court, where he served until his retirement in 2007."

"The news of his passing is met with great sadness. Judge Curtis invested decades of service to the County of Ventura, initially as a criminal prosecutor and thereafter as a Judge. The Court acknowledges Judge Curtis’ contributions and extends its condolences to his family."

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