Murder suspect arraigned

Defendant faces at least a 25-year term if convicted

A 41-year-old man accused of shooting his girlfriend in the head during a Friday morning argument at a rural Gold Hill home was arraigned Monday on a murder charge.

Robert Joseph Simonson pleaded not guilty Monday in Jackson County Circuit Court to a single murder charge in connection with the slaying of Kimberly Ann Staack, 52.

Simonson allegedly fired one shot during an argument at an apartment in the 1500 block of Rogue River Highway shortly before 6:30 a.m. Friday, according to the Jackson County Sheriff's Department.

The couple were in a relationship and living a transient-like lifestyle, police said. They were staying at a friend's apartment when the shooting occurred, sheriff's spokeswoman Andrea Carlson said.

Simonson appeared Monday afternoon for his arraignment from the Jackson County Jail via video conferencing.

Jackson County Circuit Judge Kelly Ravassipour ordered Simonson held without bail and back in court Nov. 12 for a preliminary hearing. He was also ordered representation from a public defender.

At the end of the hearing, Simonson told Ravassipour, "Thank you, kindly" before he disappeared from the screen to end the brief 2:30 p.m. hearing.

If convicted, Simonson faces a minimum of 25 years in prison under Oregon's Measure 11 minimum-sentencing law.

Sheriff's deputies have remained mum on what triggered the argument that ended in Staack's slaying, saying the case remained under investigation.

Carlson did say Monday that Simonson has a lengthy out-of-state criminal history, but declined to characterize his past convictions or say where the crimes occurred.

The murder charge was Simonson's only criminal case in Jackson County, court records show.

Carlson also declined to identify the gun, other than to say it was a handgun. She declined to reveal to whom the weapon was registered.

A 911 call alerted police just after the shooting. Deputies aided Staack, who was rushed by ambulance to an unspecified local hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470, or email at

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