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Testimony begins in Fairman murder trial

by CHAUNCEY ROSS on April 23, 2013 2:00 PM

Testimony opened Tuesday morning in the murder trial of Shaun Fairman in Indiana County court, where jurors looked at photographs of the northern Indiana County house where Richard Shotts, of the Rural Valley area, was fatally shot last summer and heard Shotts’ daughter tearfully describe what she heard of the deadly confrontation between her estranged husband and her father.

Attorneys displayed the state police photos of Jessica Shotts’ residence along Route 210, circulating prints of photographs among the jurors and projecting the images on a screen in the courtroom — showing the attic where Jessica Shotts sent her mother and two young children to hide, the bedroom where she shot and wounded Fairman, and the kitchen where Richard Shotts’ body could be seen on the bloody floor.

Known last year as Jessica Fairman, she testified today of filing for a protection from abuse order against her husband, getting a court order for him to move from the home and give up his weapons, and of filing for divorce.

Investigators charged that Shaun Fairman picked up the divorce papers in his mail June 2 and went that night with a rifle and a handgun to Jessica’s home, where he argued with Richard Shotts, fired his gun twice and mortally wounded him in the neck.

Richard Shotts’ widow, Candice, also testified Tuesday morning that she and her husband were staying the night at her daughter’s house and slept on couches in the living room. She said she was wakened by pounding on the door, told about her husband and son-in-law exchanging words and said the two traded gunshots.

“Dick was saying, ‘Shaun, don’t do this, let’s talk about this. … Look, I’m putting (my gun) in my pocket, let’s talk about this,” Candice Shotts testified.

She fled upstairs to find Jessica and her grandchildren, and Jessica sent her to the attic to hide, she said.

In cross-examination by defense attorney Robert Dougherty, Jessica Shotts said she believed Shaun Fairman needed mental health treatment and encouraged him several times to seek help during the time of their separation.

Fairman also made threats to kill himself, but not on the night he came to her house and shot her father, Jessica testified.

The trial is under way before Judge William Martin.

See complete coverage in tomorrow’s Indiana Gazette.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Updated at 2:15 p.m. to correct the spelling of Shotts.

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