Man confessed to pushing girlfriend before her death in St. Roch, police say _lowres

Mugshot from New Orleans Police Department

A St. Roch man was arrested Thursday night on a count of second-degree murder after he confessed to pushing his live-in girlfriend to the floor, then watching as she struggled for breath and died, New Orleans homicide detectives said in a warrant.

Police said neighbors heard 52-year-old Kelley Hetterick screaming for help before she died Thursday morning in her apartment at Spain and North Johnson streets. The man who killed her, according to authorities, was her boyfriend, Paul Cromer III, 45.

Neighbors said Cromer and Hetterick frequently engaged in fights so loud that the sounds of breaking glass and furniture could be heard one or two houses away.

About 5 a.m. Thursday, according to the warrant, the fighting started again.

Neighbors told police they heard fighting and then the couple screaming at each other, according to an arrest warrant signed by Detective Leonard Bendy Jr.

When officers arrived, they found Hetterick unresponsive on the floor in the bedroom, the right side of her face and nose bloodied.

Cromer was still at the scene. When he was taken in for questioning, he claimed to detectives that Hetterick had struck him after their fight turned physical. Police noted in the warrant, however, that they saw “no significant injuries” to Cromer.

Cromer said he then pushed Hetterick and she fell to the floor, according to the warrant.

He also said he “may have struck Kelley Hetterick with his hands during the altercation but was unsure.”

As Hetterick began to struggle to breathe, police said, her boyfriend of four years stood by and did nothing.

Cromer, who, according to booking records, works at the Five Happiness Chinese Restaurant, was ordered held in lieu of $1 million bail Thursday. He remained in jail Friday.

Cromer previously pleaded guilty to simple battery in 2011, according to court records. Further details on that incident were not immediately available.