Beaver County bride accused of fatally shooting niece
A Beaver County bride was “best friends” with her niece and never would have shot her to death intentionally, the bride's mother said on Friday.
A distraught Julia Francis said her daughter, Christina Nicole George, 30, of Conway told her, “Ma, I just went to go move the gun and it went off.”
A bullet from the 9mm Glock handgun killed Francis' granddaughter, Katelyn “Kaytee” Francis, 21, about 10 p.m. Thursday outside Jimmy K's Bar & Grille in New Brighton, where George and her friends were celebrating her marriage of a few hours earlier.
Police said George fired the shot into the abdomen of Francis of Fairmont, W.Va., south of Morgantown. The mother of one son died in UPMC Presbyterian, Oakland.
“It was my daughter and granddaughter,” Julia Francis, 61, said from her Beaver Falls home, where photographs of the daughter she calls Tina hang in a stairwell. “They were like best friends.”
Katelyn Francis was the oldest daughter of her stepson, Julia Francis said.
Police charged George with homicide, aggravated assault and reckless endangerment. Magistrate Edward Howe denied bail, and George remains in the Beaver County Jail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 2.
George, who works as a nurse in Pittsburgh, married Jeremy Harvan of Rochester in a civil ceremony, her mother said. The families dined together at Tinitique Cafe & Tavern in Bridgewater. After dinner, the bride and groom joined friends at Jimmy K's.
Jamie Botinovch said he met friends at the neighborhood bar and restaurant on 11th Avenue for its popular wing night. It has multiple televisions, a pool table and a horseshoe-shaped bar. The newlyweds arrived sometime after 8 p.m., with George wearing a white dress, he said.
“She looked a little too dressed up to be at the bar,” said Botinovch, 42, of Beaver, who said he did not know the couple.
A couple of friends joined George and Harvan before the arrival of a young woman with her hair dyed bright red, he said. She was Katelyn Francis.
The group drank shots and became boisterous at times, but Botinovch said he didn't think much of it since they were celebrating a wedding.
The situation changed when a bartender cut off someone in the party, and two women began to argue.
“It was too loud to hear what they were saying,” Botinovch said. “But you could tell they were having words with each other.”
Police said George and her niece were arguing over who was going to drive Harvan's truck, which was parked in a small gravel lot across the street. The newlyweds and Francis continued arguing in the parking lot, where George retrieved a handgun from the center console of the truck, according to a criminal complaint filed by police. The weapon fired once.
Officers arrived about 10 p.m. and arrested George when she told them she had fired the handgun, the complaint states. Police said the gun belongs to Harvan. He could not be reached.
Business owner Jimmy Kline said he had seen the couple before but did not know them.
“I just feel awful, terrible for the family involved,” said Kline, 31. “She was a mother. I have kids, so I know how that is.”
A dinner reception scheduled for Friday for 44 guests at Bridgewater's Wooden Angel restaurant was canceled, Julia Francis said.
“My daughter is a good person,” she said. “She said she was just moving the gun and it went off. She has never fired a gun. This was a sheer accident.”
Jason Cato is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7936 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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