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UPDATE: Jurors view police interview with Fairman

by on April 24, 2013 1:00 PM

The district attorney’s office rested its case against homicide defendant Shaun Fairman this morning in Indiana County Court, and Fairman’s attorneys prepared to put up his defense beginning this afternoon.

Jurors this morning viewed a playback of the audio-video recording made by state police when troopers interviewed Fairman a few hours after he fatally shot his father-in-law, Richard Shotts, early June 3 in North Mahoning Township.

The shooting took place at Fairman’s former home along Route 210, where he had lived with his wife, Jessica, and their children before she obtained a protection-from-abuse order against him and filed for a divorce.

Armed with a .30-06 rifle and a .45-caliber revolver, Fairman went to the home after midnight and confronted Shotts, who had planned to stay the night in anticipation of possible trouble from Fairman. The pair traded gunshots, and Fairman fired a deadly round that hit Shotts’ neck. Shotts, 55, died at the scene.

Fairman got into the house, went to the second floor and was shot and wounded by Jessica Fairman, who fired a handgun at him from behind a bedroom door.

In the video recording, Fairman, 33, is shown telling the investigating officer, Trooper Shawn Compton, that he went to the house intent on scaring his estranged wife.

“I didn’t go there to hurt anybody, especially him,” Fairman said.

Fairman told about the frustration of having a PFA against him and finding divorce papers in his mail just hours before the deadly shooting.

Did he hope for a reconciliation, Compton asked?

“I don’t know,” Fairman said. “I thought that she would talk to me, and be a respectful person. …

“I just wanted her to see … I wouldn’t hurt my kids or her. They need her. These kids need their mother.”

Much of Fairman’s conversation was inaudible, but his words were most clear when he seemed to be agitated.

His right arm was in a sling after being treated at Punxsutawney Hospital for two wounds to his shoulder. He leaned back to his left in a chair and sometimes put his right foot up against the front of the trooper’s desk.

Questioned again about taking the gun to his estranged wife’s house after midnight, Fairman explained, “I want her to drop the PFA. ... I wanted her to stop controlling me.”

In cross-examination after the video playback, defense attorney Robert Dougherty pointed out that Compton interrogated Fairman just hours after doctors determined he was intoxicated with a blood-alcohol level more than 0.2 percent. In Pennsylvania, a driver is considered to be impaired at a level of .08.

“And why, when Shaun said, ‘I’m done, I don’t want to say any more,’ you continued to ask questions?” Dougherty asked.

Compton read from a transcript:

“He said, “I’m done talking, you know what I’ve done. What more do you want me to say?’ He ended with a question” so the interview continued, Compton said.

Assistant District Attorneys Pamela Miller and Matthew Ross called 16 witnesses to lay out their case against Fairman.

The shooting death is undisputed.

Defense attorneys Dougherty, Donald McKee and Aaron Ludwig plan to present expert psychological testimony to show Fairman should be considered not guilty because of a mental infirmity at the time of the shooting.

Chauncey Ross is the Gazette’s fixture at Indiana Area and Homer-Center school board meetings, has been seen with pen and notepad in area police stations and courts, and is something of an Open Records Act and Sunshine Law advocate. He also manages the Gazette’s websites and answers your questions about them.
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