Press Release: Prosecutors Gazzaniga, Tellman win local award, 2/17/10

February 23, 2010
Bradford R. Fenocchio

District Attorney


10810 Justice Center Drive, Suite 240
Roseville, California 95678

For Immediate Release
Date: February 17, 2010


Art Campos

Public Information Officer


Scott Owens

Assistant District Attorney




Placer County prosecutors Suzanne Gazzaniga and David Tellman have been honored by PEACE for Families for their efforts to combat domestic violence.

The two received the award at the agency’s third annual “Have a Heart for PEACE Gala” held February 12 at Catta Verdera Country Club in Lincoln.

It was the latest honor received by Gazzaniga and Tellman, two senior deputy district attorneys who won statewide and countywide awards as “Prosecutors of the Year” in 2009 for their successful prosecution in a nearly 27-year murder mystery.

Michelle Coleman, executive director of PEACE for Families, praised the two prosecutors for their hard work in cases involving domestic violence.

“The only way to end the legacy of domestic violence is through collaborations with our partners,” Coleman said. “Our two honorees are perfect examples of that.”

Gazzaniga and Tellman gained a conviction in the trial of Paul R. Kovacich, a former Placer County sheriff’s sergeant whose wife’s murder had gone unsolved since her disappearance from her Auburn home in 1982.

The body of Janet Kovacich was never found. Only the top portion of her skull was discovered in a dry lake bed in Colfax in 1995. The skull had a bullet hole in it.

Relying largely on circumstantial evidence, Gazzaniga and Tellman were able to tie the victim’s murder to her husband, whom witnesses portrayed as abusive and controlling toward his wife.

In a trial that stretched over a four-month period that ended in January 2009, the jury convicted Paul Kovacich on a charge of first-degree murder. He is now serving a state prison sentence of 27 years to life.

Gazzaniga and Tellman were named “Prosecutors of the Year” last June by the California District Attorneys Association and won a similar honor from Placer County in November.

Their newest award comes from a nonprofit agency in Placer County that serves victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

PEACE for Families offers a 24-hour crisis line, sexual assault/domestic violence emergency response, counseling, transitional housing and an emergency shelter for battered women and their children. Educational presentations and community workshops are also among its services.