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Friends hope arrest won't tarnish ex-Tournament of Roses official

February 10, 2012 | 12:15 pm

Richard Allan Munnecke accused of killing Donna Lee Kelly
Friends of longtime Tournament of Roses volunteer Richard Allan Munnecke, 71, are breathing a sigh of relief at the news that because of insufficient evidence he will not be charged with murder in a 2004 cold case.

"In my mind it was an inappropriate and untimely arrest," said Diana Peterson-More, vice president of the Pasadena Rotary Club, in which Munnecke was active. "I'm grateful on behalf of Allan and his family."

Munnecke was arrested at his Alhambra home on Wednesday, news that shocked the Pasadena civic community where Munnecke was active.

Los Angeles County sheriff's detectives alleged he had a romantic relationship with Donna Lee Kelly, 59, a Buick saleswoman who was also a longtime volunteer for the Rose Parade effort. She was found dead in the trunk of her car in April 2004, but the case languished for nearly eight years for lack of evidence. Authorities said they were able to test genetic material obtained from Munnecke and that DNA evidence linked him to the killing.

"I'm someone who does believes in the science; this indicates to me that the science was insufficient or corrupted," Peterson-More said. "Although we're innocent until proven guilty, when people are arrested there's a tendency to have gone through the jury trial in our minds. I hope this doesn't destroy his reputation and standing in the community."

In interviews after his arrest, friends said Munnecke was a well-respected, "consummate gentleman" and that they were shocked by the news.

Ken Hill, president of the Pasadena Rotary Club, said Thursday that he had known Munnecke since they were students at San Marino High School.

"I knew him for over 50 years, we went to high school together and I just never would've thought this of him," Hill said, who is also an auxiliary member of the Tournament of Roses. "I was shocked."

On Friday, Hill said: "My goodness, isn't that something. Yesterday it seemed like it was shut tight. This is good news certainly for him and his family."

Hill said people are quick to jump to conclusions, but that the D.A.'s decision not to charge Munnecke should speak for itself.

"I think we'll just not talk about it. What's the point of going over everything and just making it more than what it apparently was?" Hill said.

"People are going to think what they want to think. As a Rotary Club we have to accept what the law says. We don't judge people on rumor or accusations. I think this is complete."

RELATED:

Romantic relationship probed by detectives

Pasadenans shocked at arrest of Tournament of Roses ex-director

Ex-Tournament of Roses director linked to slaying was model citizen

-- Adolfo Flores and Victoria Kim

Photos: Richard Allan Munnecke and Donna Lee Kelly. Credit: Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department

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