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Suspect in motel stabbing in court

A Waterford man accused of stabbing his former girlfriend to death last week at a Modesto motel appeared in Stanislaus County Superior Court on Tuesday. Erick John Vogel did not enter a plea, and his arraignment was scheduled for May 18 at 8:30 a.m.

Modesto police said Vogel, 38, broke into a motel room April 22 and killed Katherine Voelker, 26, of Waterford.

Vogel entered the courtroom wearing a red and white striped jumpsuit and had shackles around his feet and waist. He quietly answered questions from the judge during the 10 minutes he was in the room.

Vogel sat a few feet in front of Voelker's sister, Jennifer Sahines, who attended the proceeding with two family members.

Judge Thomas Zeff set Vogel's bail at $5 million.

Deputy District Attorney Nate Baker asked for that amount because he said Vogel should be considered "a severe flight risk and a risk to the public."

Deputy Public Defender Sonny Sandhu, Vogel's attorney, did not object to the bail amount.

Vogel faces two felony charges and a misdemeanor charge stemming from the attack on Voelker.

According to the criminal complaint, Vogel was charged with first-degree murder with enhancements on suspicion of acting with premeditation, using a knife and committing a felony while being out on his own recognizance pending completion of a sentence for a felony conviction.

Vogel was convicted in March of beating Voelker and was sentenced to 60 days in jail. Superior Court Judge Donald Shaver ordered him to report to jail May 26 to serve the remaining 47 days of his sentence.

On Tuesday, Vogel also was charged with first-degree burglary because authorities said he broke into the motel room with the intent to commit a felony. The burglary charge carries an enhancement on suspicion of committing a felony while being out on his own recognizance.

The misdemeanor charge is in connection with violating a court order to stay 100 yards away from Voelker. The restraining order was issued to protect Voelker when Vogel was released from custody in March.

Sister: Didn't expect trouble

Voelker's family said she was trying to escape an abusive relationship with Vogel. She stayed at Haven Women's Center for about a month until she moved into the motel about a week before her death.

Before the hearing started, Sahines said her sister never thought Vogel would find her at the motel.

"Katherine never told them she feared for her life or else the Haven would've taken extra steps to protect her," Sahines said.

Voelker was killed at Rodeway Inn on McHenry Avenue. Vogel and Voelker have two young children, who were in the motel room when she was stabbed.

Authorities searched for Vogel for four days before an anonymous tip led Stanislaus County sheriff's deputies to him in Waterford on Saturday.

Vogel is being held at the Stanislaus County Jail. He began serving the remainder of his 60-day sentence as soon as sheriff's deputies ushered him out of the courtroom.

Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at or 578-2394.

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