Former track star Tim Danielson sentenced for killing ex-wife Ming Qi

EL CAJON, Calif. - A former track star who shot his ex-wife to death in their Lakeside home, then tried to commit suicide by inhaling carbon monoxide, was sentenced Friday to 50 years to life in state prison.

Timothy Ralph Danielson, 66, was convicted in May of first-degree murder in the June 13, 2011, killing of Ming Qi.

Before he was sentenced, a tearful Danielson apologized to Qi's 23-year-old son, Huapeng, for taking his mother's life. After starting to read a statement, Danielson handed it over to defense attorney Paul Pfingst to finish.

"The first thing I want to say is that I am so sorry about your mother dying being caused by me. I know I cannot adequately express my sorrow and remorse for what I did. This wasn't supposed to happen," Danielson said in the statement. "This was my suicide. I wish you only good things, Huapeng."

The defendant he would switch places with the victim if he could.

Danielson, in a second statement, also apologized to his own family, saying he was always known as a calm and non-violent person.

"I'm so sorry I disappointed and embarrassed you and let you down," he said.

Deputy District Attorney Chantal de Mauregne read a letter from Huapeng Qi, in which he said it was "very comforting to see justice served."

His letter also included: "What happened three years ago is not something I talk about. I buried it deep inside so that some memories can stay pure in me; not contaminated by the outside world, not diminished by words."

Prosecutors said the 48-year-old victim was shot six times with a rifle in the back, head and throat as she tried to run away after arguing with Danielson about a man she had been dating. Qi and Danielson were divorced, but living in the same house.

Pfingst suggested his client's use of an anti-smoking drug may have affected the defendant's behavior. Pfingst said that around the time of the murder, Danielson had started and stopped taking Chantix, which, according to its website, can cause side effects such as "hostility, agitation, depressed mood and suicidal thoughts."

No Chantix was detected in the defendant's system the day after the murder, de Mauregne said outside court.

The defendant and the victim were married from 2006 to 2008 but lived together after their divorce for financial reasons, maintaining separate bedrooms in their home on New Bedford Court.

After the shooting, Danielson took Qi's body to his bedroom and used a gas generator to try to kill himself with carbon monoxide.

The suicide attempt was foiled by sheriff's deputies who were called to the couple's home by a relative who said she had received an email from Danielson saying he had just killed Qi and was about to kill himself.

Danielson was a running star at Chula Vista High School in the late 1960s. In 1966, he became only the second U.S. high schooler to run a mile in under four minutes.

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