A 17-year-old Eureka boy was fatally shot when he lunged for his mother’s shotgun and the weapon went off, the mother told Eureka police the night she was arrested.
Pamela Faye Millsap, charged with voluntary manslaughter and child abuse, told Eureka police Detective Corrie Watson that she and her son were arguing the evening of Feb.18 and she got her shotgun from her bedroom. Millsap said she was afraid the boy was going to assault her or her 10-year-old daughter, and she got the gun out to scare him.
“She explained that the sound of the action of the shotgun is very identifiable to most people,” Watson testified Wednesday under questioning by Deputy District Attorney Whitney Timm.
It was the first day of Millsap’s preliminary hearing. Before the hearing started, Millsap turned down a plea bargain that would have put her in prison for 12 years.
Watson testified that Millsap told her the boy, identified in court as John Doe, threatened to “beat her ass” and kill her. When she came into the living room with the shotgun, she said, her son went for the gun.
“John Doe was extremely upset,” Watson quoted Millsap as saying, “and he grabbed the end of the shotgun and pulled the barrel up toward his neck.”
According to Millsap, her son said “Shoot me; I’m ready to die.”
Millsap said she pulled the boy’s fingers off the gun barrel, one at a time. She lowered the shotgun so it was pointing downward, but her son “lunged for the barrel and the gun went off.”
“You shot me,” he said to his mother.
John Doe was struck in the abdomen and died later in the hospital.
The shooting occurred in the family’s home on Union Street. John Doe, his little sister Jane Doe, their mother and Jane Doe’s father shared the two-bedroom house.
Jane Doe was in the living room, which doubled as her bedroom, when she saw her brother shot. She told an interviewer she heard the two arguing, and her brother threatened to kill their mother. She was told to call 911, which she did.
The girl confirmed her mother’s story that John Doe said “Shoot me.” She also saw him grab the gun. She watched as the gun went off.
“She said John Doe fell to the ground and said ‘You shot me’ and he was crying.”
Millsap recounted the events to Watson more than once, during one version saying John Doe had threatened her daughter. But the daughter said she’d never been threatened.
Millsap told police her son was out of control, and she regularly called the police on him. But police records conflict with her testimony. Both Millsap and Jane Doe’s father said the boy was frequently drunk. A blood sample taken during the autopsy showed marijuana and a blood alcohol level of .16.
There was quite a bit of testimony about the condition of the Union Street house, which was so crammed with trash and other items the floor was invisible. Access was blocked to the kitchen sink, which didn’t work anyway.
Dishes, when they were done, were washed in the bathtub. Empty and half-empty food containers were strewn throughout the residence. The only comparatively clean room belonged to John Doe.
Watson said she left the house about 1 or 2 a.m. after police searched the place. She was unable to lock the front door because the door knob was faulty. At some point between then and about 6:30 a.m., a fire started that heavily damaged the home and killed a cat and some pet mice.
Watson said fire investigators ruled the fire as accidental, caused by items piled on a heater vent.
Testimony was expected to continue this afternoon, with Deputy Conflict Counsel April Van Dyke cross-examining Watson.
Millsap was not in court but watched the hearing from the jail’s videoconferencing room.
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