Indiana, PA - Indiana County

Man intends to pursue insanity defense

by on April 04, 2013 11:00 AM

A man accused of shooting and killing his father-in-law intends to mount a mental infirmity defense when he heads to trial later this month.

Shaun C. Fairman, 33, notified the court of his intended defense in paperwork filed Monday.

Fairman’s public defender, Robert Dougherty, declined comment.

Fairman is charged with criminal homicide, aggravated assault and burglary in the shooting death of Richard “Dick” Shotts, his estranged wife’s father.

At the time of the shooting, Fairman’s wife, Jessica, was divorcing him, and her parents were staying with her in case Fairman showed up to confront her. And he did just that on June 3.

Armed with a rifle and a handgun, Fairman arrived at his former home in North Mahoning Township shortly after midnight.

Shotts confronted him, and the two exchanged words. Then gunfire. Shotts was mortally wounded.

Fairman then entered the home and began looking for his wife, who had fled upstairs. Police say she shot him when he walked into the bedroom which she had fled to.

Fairman is being held in the Indiana County Jail. His trial is scheduled to begin April 22, but a plea agreement has been proposed, according to Dougherty. It has yet to be accepted, however.

On Wednesday, attorneys in the case discussed a variety of procedural matters during a pretrial hearing before President Judge William Martin.

Among them was whether Fairman should be tried here.

Dougherty contends that the case has been under extreme scrutiny by the local press, and it therefore will be impossible for Fairman to receive a fair trial in Indiana County.

Martin said he would wait and see whether attorneys are able to empanel a jury before considering a venue change.

Also, Dougherty wants to block jurors from seeing some of the 601 crime scene photos reportedly held by prosecutors. Prosecutors Wednesday indicated they planned to present up to 125 photos.

Martin ordered prosecutors to share the photographs with the defense by Tuesday, and he is giving Dougherty until April 11 to file objections to specific images.

In addition, Dougherty requested up to $10,000 to pay for a consultant to help select a jury; Martin denied the request. However, he authorized $2,000 for a ballistics expert.

Dougherty said he may require the services of such an expert because determining which weapons were fired and by whom is likely to be an issue in the case.



Sam Kusic is a staff writer for The Indiana Gazette.
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