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TV writer sentenced in wife’s death

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A former television comedy writer and producer was sentenced Friday to 26 years in prison in the beating death of his wife.

Forty-nine-year-old J.J. Paulsen was sentenced Friday in Hamilton Superior Court on charges of voluntary manslaughter, neglect of a dependent and moving a body from the scene of death. Prosecutors had dropped a charge of murder as part of a plea agreement.
Judge Dan Pfleging also ordered that Paulsen cannot write, produce or direct, or collaborate with anyone in those activities, to profit from his wife’s death.
The body of Leanne Serrano-Paulsen, 39, was found in April 2007 in the attic of the couple’s upscale home in Carmel north of Indianapolis.
When officers entered the home, they found the couple’s 16-month-old son, Christopher, alone in a crib, crying but unharmed. J.J. Paulsen, who was found walking along a street about three miles away, was arrested on charges of child abandonment and violation of probation.
He had pleaded guilty in January 2007 to domestic battery. Police said Serrano-Paulsen had called police twice after she was beaten by her husband.
An autopsy showed that Serrano-Paulsen had been beaten and died from trauma that led to internal bleeding in her brain. She had been dead for at least a week before her body was discovered, and her remains were partially mummified by the time they were found.
“Leanne did not deserve to die as she did, and the man who killed her does not deserve leniency,” Serrano-Paulsen’s mother, Suzanne Otis said during Friday’s hearing.
Pfleging issued the maximum sentence allowable under the plea agreement.
The agreement accepted by Paulsen in December lowered the charge from murder to voluntary manslaughter, indicating Serrano-Paulsen’s death might have occurred in the heat of anger and was not premeditated. Without a confession, witnesses or a weapon, prosecutors said a plea deal made sense.
The couple moved to Carmel from New York in 2004. J.J. Paulsen, who was a writer and producer for “Cosby” and “In Living Color” and other television shows, was no longer working as a writer and had fallen on financial hard times, prosecutors said.
Serrano-Paulsen was Carmel High School’s homecoming queen in 1985 and an Indiana University graduate. She had pursued her dreams of acting and singing before marrying J.J. Paulsen, appearing in local productions and in a national tour of “Jesus Christ Superstar.”
Hamilton County records show that months before Serrano-Paulsen’s death, the Paulsens were named in a series of lawsuits filed by creditors who won judgments seeking nearly $700,000 in debts.
One mortgage claim, for nearly $620,000, prompted foreclosure proceedings on the home.

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