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Woman dies after fight in parking lot

Photo by Nate McCullough

Photo by Nate McCullough

SUWANEE -- A domestic clash escalated to a fatal stabbing Sunday in a crowded Wal-Mart parking lot in Suwanee -- a killing and attempted suicide the married couple's children likely bore witness to, police said.

The incident outside the 3245 Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road retailer left one woman dead and her estranged husband jailed. It marks a rare homicide investigation by Suwanee police.

Police said Shelley Dunn, 27, of Buford, met her husband Phillip Dunn, 28, of Lawrenceville, in the parking lot to swap custody of their daughters, ages 6 and 8. The location served as a halfway point between their residences.

About 4 p.m., the pair began arguing outside Phillip Dunn's truck. He allegedly stabbed his wife before knifing himself in the area of his abdomen and chest, said Suwanee police Capt. Cass Mooney.

Police are unsure who'd brought the knife or what prompted the argument.

The couple was transported to Gwinnett Medical Center, where Shelley Dunn was later pronounced dead.

Phillip Dunn was released from the hospital Sunday night and arrested on charges of felony murder and malice murder, Mooney said. He remains at the Gwinnett County Jail without bond.

"I don't believe he's spoken to investigators," Mooney said Monday. "I don't believe we have any information as far as what started the argument."

The children, who remained in the truck during the altercation, have been turned over to family members, Mooney said.

The altercation wasn't the couple's first.

Barrow County Sheriff's Office deputies arrested Phillip Dunn last week on felony charges for allegedly injuring his wife at a home on Ga. Highway 211. He was arrested and charged with aggravated assault for choking the victim and aggravated battery for causing burns to her right arm, the Barrow County News reported. He later posted bond and was released from jail.

Barrow County Sheriff Jud Smith could not be reached for comment late Monday.

Phillip Dunn's criminal record in Gwinnett dates back to a public intoxication arrest in 1999, followed by a disorderly conduct arrest in 2001 and subsequent probation violations. Jail records indicate he is unemployed.

The killing is the city of Suwanee's first homicide in three years, since a woman's body turned up behind a motel in January 2007. An Illinois truck driver admitted to the slaying, along with murders in five other states.

Prior to that, Suwanee police hadn't worked a homicide since 1965.

The case marks the second time in a week a husband-wife clash has resulted in fatal violence in public in Gwinnett, following a murder-suicide outside a Lawrenceville cinema last Tuesday.