Cedaredge man kills self before sentencing in wife’s death
A Cedaredge man, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of his wife in the couple’s hot tub in 2010, died last weekend in a suspected suicide, Delta County authorities said.
Delta County Coroner Kevin Lucy said Billy Kissner, 49, apparently fatally shot himself in front of his home in Cedaredge on Friday afternoon. It happened hours before Kissner, who had been free on bond, was scheduled to be sentenced in Delta Combined Court in connection with the 2010 death of his wife, Raelynn.
Delta County Sheriff Fred McKee said Cedaredge police and sheriff’s deputies were called around 1:30 p.m. Friday to Kissner’s home, 755 E. Main St., after a passerby reported finding Kissner laying in his driveway with a gunshot wound to the head.
Kissner was transported first to Delta County Memorial Hospital, then to St. Mary’s Hospital where he died around 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, Lucy said.
Kissner suffered an apparent single self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, McKee said.
McKee said the nature of how Kissner’s body was found in proximity to the weapon, a .22 caliber handgun, was consistent with suicide. McKee declined to elaborate. Investigators don’t believe anybody else was at Kissner’s home at the time of the shooting, although McKee said he wasn’t aware of any suicide note left behind, or, any statements to anyone threatening suicide.
The case is essentially closed “unless further information should become available,” Mc-Kee said.
Lucy said an autopsy will not be performed.
“In the absence of medical history, we have to do an autopsy in cases like this,” Lucy said, reciting state statute, while explaining his decision not to scrutinize Kissner’s death. “With him being transported to two hospitals, that gives us medical history and case information we need.”
Kissner, who pleaded guilty in July to a reduced charge of reckless manslaughter as an act of domestic violence, faced a possible prison term during a sentencing hearing scheduled for last Friday afternoon.
Kissner had told authorities that he found his wife on Nov. 22, 2010, not breathing and face down in a hot tub at their home but he removed her from the hot tub before police arrived, according to court records.
Raelynn Kissner was pronounced dead at Delta County Memorial Hospital. An autopsy did not determine cause of death.
Kissner was arrested and charged with second-degree murder in May 2012 after Mc-Kee said “new information” was presented to investigators from Kissner’s family.