Indiana County woman describes father's murder

Renatta Signorini
| Tuesday, April 23, 2013, 12:45 p.m.

Shaun Casey Fairman told nearly everyone he saw in the early-morning hours of June 3 that he had killed his father-in-law, according to trial testimony Tuesday.

Fairman, 33, told state police troopers and an emergency room doctor and nurse that he made a mistake by going to his estranged wife's house in North Mahoning Township at 12:24 a.m.

“While we were at the hospital, Mr. Fairman told me he was going to go to hell for shooting his father-in-law,” Trooper Robert Means III testified.

Defense attorneys have conceded that Fairman killed Richard Shotts, 55, of Rural Valley, but they claim Fairman suffers from a mental infirmity that impaired his judgment.

Jessica Shotts testified that she had previously urged her estranged husband to seek mental health treatment and had a protection-from-abuse court order against him. A divorce is pending.

Shotts, the prosecution's first witness, described for jurors that harrowing morning at her Route 210 home.

She and her parents spent June 2 preparing for a birthday party for Shotts' oldest of four children with Fairman. Richard and Candice Shotts spent the night at their daughter's home to protect her from Fairman, who had learned that day of the divorce filing. Shotts obtained the protection order on May 22 and filed for divorce on May 30.

Jessica Shotts awoke to the sound of her father's voice early on June 3 and knew something was wrong. “He said, 'Shaun, don't do this,'” she testified.

Shotts called 911 and ran downstairs to find her father lying on the kitchen floor with a neck wound.

“I stepped over him and went to (another room), got my gun and went back upstairs,” Jessica Shotts testified through tears.

She visibly recoiled and struggled to maintain composure on the witness stand when Assistant District Attorney Pamela Miller showed Shotts a photograph of her father's body.

But Shotts spoke deliberately when she recalled hiding in a bedroom and hearing Fairman walking through the house and talking to the family dog, Bella. “I heard footsteps. I knew he was in the house,” she said.

While Candice Shotts and two children hid in an attic, Jessica Shotts waited “until I had him right in front of the door and I shot,” she testified.

She fired twice, hitting Fairman in the shoulder. She ordered him to come into the room and sit while they waited for police to arrive.

“He asked me why I couldn't love him,” Shotts said.

Jessica Shotts testified she feared Fairman had another gun so she stayed with the man she married in November 2002.

Fairman fired two shots from a revolver. One shot was fired from a revolver possessed by Richard Shotts, based on state police testing. Three shots were fired from Jessica Shotts's revolver. A fourth gun, a rifle, was brought to the home by Fairman, according to testimony.

Shortly after the shootings, Fairman's blood-alcohol content was .248 percent. A motorist in Pennsylvania is considered intoxicated at a level of .08 percent.

State police Cpl. Kurtis Rummel testified that, despite the gunshot wounds, Fairman was coherent, but he slurred his words.

“He smelled of alcohol. However, he was not hard to understand at all,” Rummel said. “To me, he appeared to know what was going on.”

Fairman was treated at Punxsutawney Area Hospital before being taken to Indiana County Jail, where he is being held.

The rifle found at the home apparently came from a Smicksburg area shop.

Raymond Weaver, who is Amish, testified that he was involved in a “consignment” process through which Fairman took possession of the gun. Weaver testified there was no background or identification check and that he knew Fairman.

“He just said if anybody asks who bought this gun, you don't know,” said Weaver, who affirmed to tell the truth rather than swear that he would testify truthfully.

Weaver said the shop no longer sells or “consigns” guns. He is not charged, according to court records.

Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or

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