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  • Writer's pictureRobin Lyons

A Hard, Calloused Heart

A woman claimed decades of emotional and physical abuse lead to her having a gun nearby when she and her husband separated to cool down after a heated argument.


According to the woman’s testimony, most of her marriage had been tumultuous. One time, she filed an order of protection against him but never left. She didn’t believe in divorce.


After her husband had a heart attack requiring a triple bypass surgery for which they didn’t have insurance to cover the $249,000 cost, their finances were strained. The hospital had put them on a monthly payment plan. Financial trouble used to be the number one reason for divorce (replaced with infidelity).


On the last day of the husband’s life, they’d been arguing about the medical bills. She asked him to go to a relative’s house to cool off. He wouldn’t leave, so she went to their shed that served as a garage. She had a gun. When he entered the shed and moved toward her, she said she feared for her life because, according to her, he’d said in the past he’d kill her. He dropped from one gunshot wound to the chest. He was still alive when she called 911.


The medical staff could not save his life. Of course, the authorities questioned her. She told them a lie—said he’d shot at her first, the same thing she'd said on the 911 call. The evidence proved he hadn’t fired the gun. She confessed a couple of months after the incident.


Rejecting a plea deal for eight to 20 years, the case went to trial. At her trial, her son testified that she’d always said, “There will be no peace until one of us is gone.” Her attorney argued that if she’d wanted him dead, she’d have shot him a second time, not called for help.


The jury deliberated for 90 minutes—returning with a verdict—guilty of first-degree murder, largely based on her lying about who took the first shot.


At the sentencing, the judge said,


“It is a hard, calloused heart [the defendant] needed to do what she did to her husband and then lie about it.”


The judge then sentenced the 76-year-old woman to life in prison without the possibility of parole.



Source: PA Attorney General, Altoona Mirror

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