An Illinois man is accused of killing his ex-wife in a hail of bullets as the couple’s 5-year-old daughter was in the next room.
Ulisses Medina Espinosa, 31, was arrested at his parent's home, where investigators found the body of his ex-wife Stacia Hollinshead, a DeKalb County assistant state’s attorney, in the kitchen along with 16 spent shell casings, WITI reports. A preliminary autopsy report found she had been shot 15 times.
Espinosa has been charged with first-degree intentional homicide.
Hollinshead, 30, had gone to her former in-laws home on Saturday so that her young daughter would be able to visit with her grandparents, despite being in the middle of a bitter custody dispute with Espinosa.
His mother told investigators she had Hollinshead had been in the kitchen when she “suddenly heard several gunshots” coming from behind her.
She told police “she turned around and saw Ulisses in the kitchen near the sink area. She said she saw him toss the gun in the sink,” a criminal complaint obtained by the news channel said.
The couple’s young daughter had been in a nearby room at the time and would later tell police Espinosa had arrived at the home and given her presents before he “shooted my mom.”
She said it was a “huge problem” Espinosa had showed up at the house because her parents were not supposed to see each other.
"He started shooting Mommy with a gun. He kept shooting Mommy. She didn't die, but I don't know what happened to her. I was going to tell Daddy not to shoot Mommy because if Mommy is hurt she won't be able to drive me home,” she said.
Shortly after the attack, Espinosa’s mother called 911. An officer entered the home with his gun drawn and found Espinosa's mother yelling “He killed her! He killed her! He killed her!” Espinosa was still on the scene and quickly apprehended by police.
Hollinshead’s boyfriend, Andrew Morris, had been on the phone with her as she drove to the home Saturday afternoon.
“I just have so much bitterness and anger right now,” Morris told the DeKalb Daily Chronicle. “I was at the happiest I’d ever been in my life, and that’s when I lose her.”
Morris, who had been dating Hollinshead for more than a year, said she'd taken her young daughter to the home that afternoon because she wanted her to be able to visit with her grandparents.
“More than anything, Stacia cared about her daughter, and she wanted her to have continuity of life and a relationship with her grandparents,” he said.
He called her a passionate mother with a “gentle soul.”
Espinosa had lost his visitation rights during the couple’s divorce battle, but had recently had those rights reinstated on March 15 as long as Hollinshead supervised the visits, according to court records.
Shortly after the couple had initiated divorce filings in 2016, Hollinshead asked a judge to limit Espinosa’s rights, citing a pattern of verbal and digital harassment from him. She described one incident to a judge where she had been out on a walk with a friend and Espinosa followed behind in his car, shouting at her.
He called her later that evening 26 times within a 20-minute window, ultimately calling a total of 65 times that night.
“[Espinosa] is verbally and emotionally abusive to me,” her statement to the judge read, according to the DeKalb Daily Chronicle. “He frequently demands to call me on video-chat to talk to [our daughter] to verify our location.”
A judge would later grant an order of protection for Hollinshead against Espinosa, who lost his visitation rights a short time later.
The recent decision to reinstate those visitation rights came with several caveats, including that they must be supervised by Hollinshead and that he was required to take parenting classes.
“Both parties recognize the minor child needs to exercise parenting time with both parents,” records read. “Both parents recognize the minor needs protection from the behavior that led to visitation rights being terminated.”
Hollinshead, a former U.S. Army intelligence analyst, had just begun her law career after graduating from Northern Illinois University law school.
The DeKalb County State’s Attorney’s Office released a statement shortly after her death, describing it as the “worst possible outcome” of domestic violence.
“Although Stacia had been with our office only a few months, we quickly came to know her as a dedicated mother and prosecutor with a bright future in the practice of law,” they wrote.
The attorney’s office said the shocking death will continue to motivate their work against domestic violence.
“Stacia is yet another face and heart to fight for, and a reason to believe in the work that we do daily to free the victims in our community from the power and control of their abusers,” they wrote. “I and all of Stacia’s colleagues at the DeKalb County State’s Attorney’s Office will miss her for the rest of our lives.”
Crime Time is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information about Oxygen's original true crime shows and documentaries. Sign up for our Crime Time Newsletter and subscribe to our true crime podcast Martinis & Murder for all the best true crime content.