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Indiana County woman testifies against ex-husband, accused of fatally shooting her father

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Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review
Shaun Fairman is escorted away from the Indiana County Courthouse after a preliminary hearing on September 14, 2012.
Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Early on the morning of June 3, Jessica Shotts awoke in her Indiana County home to hear her father begging for his life.

She heard Richard Shotts saying, “Shaun, don't do this.”

A gunshot followed and Jessica Shotts dialed 911 before running downstairs toward her father's voice.

“When I got to the bottom of the steps, that's when I saw my dad was shot,” Shotts said, taking a deep breath while testifying on Friday against her ex-husband, Shaun Casey Fairman.

“I stood there for a couple seconds and ran ... to get my gun,” she said.

District Judge Guy Haberl ordered Fairman, 32, of Washington Township to stand trial on homicide charges after a preliminary hearing at the county courthouse.

Shotts had a protection from abuse court order against Fairman and their divorce was pending when Fairman came to their North Mahoning home with two guns.

Shotts' parents were spending the night because they feared what Fairman might do.

Police said he fatally shot his father-in-law through a kitchen window.

After the 55-year-old victim was down, Fairman stormed the house and confronted Jessica Shotts on the second floor.

She shot him twice in the shoulder and arm, police said, as her mother, Candice Shotts, hid in the attic with two of Jessica Shotts' four young children.

Jessica Shotts described that night in 30 minutes of unwavering testimony before Haberl.

The hearing had been moved from Haberl's office to provide more room for about a dozen family members of the victims.

Shotts testified that she hid behind a second-floor bedroom door, holding it closed with her hand.

“That's when I heard the window smash” and footsteps coming upstairs, she said.

Without seeing Fairman, Shotts said, she reached around the door and fired twice.

“I heard him yell that I shot him, and I quit shooting,” Shotts testified.

She ordered him to sit and grabbed the rifle he had been carrying.

“He told me, ‘Look what you did to me, you're going to jail now. What's going to happen to your kids?'” Shotts testified.

“He asked if I still loved him; he asked why I couldn't love him,” she testified. “He did start crying at one point, saying he killed my dad.”

Shotts said she had asked Fairman in the past to get treatment for mental health issues because he threatened to commit suicide. She believed Fairman was depressed, she said.

Trooper Shawn Compton testified that Fairman admitted to murdering Richard Shotts when he was interviewed at Punxsutawney Area Hospital and the state police station.

The revolver allegedly used to kill Richard Shotts belonged to mechanic William Troup of New Bethlehem, who testified he was a co-worker of Fairman's for two years.

On June 2, Fairman came to Troup's house for a few hours to visit.

“He was upset about the divorce and he was served divorce papers that day,” Troup testified. “He was pretty upset, so he wanted to come talk.”

After hearing about the fatal shooting, Troup noticed his loaded revolver in its leather holster was missing from its storage place in his pickup truck. He reported the missing firearm to state police.

Fairman is charged with homicide, burglary, receiving stolen property and aggravated assault.

Jessica Shotts will not face criminal charges for defending herself, District Attorney Patrick Dougherty previously determined. He said her actions fell within the state's castle doctrine, which permits the use of lethal force in a home or public place for protection.

Fairman is being held in the Indiana County Jail without bond.

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

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