Defendant claims suicide, not murder was his intention
Shaun Casey Fairman claims he was intent on committing suicide in front of his estranged wife, so he took two guns to her Indiana County home after midnight June 3 and knocked on the door.
He didn't expect to see his father-in-law, Richard Shotts, 55, of Rural Valley, through the kitchen window.
When Shotts pointed a gun at Fairman and fired, Fairman fired back, killing Shotts, Fairman told an Indiana County jury Wednesday.
“I didn't go there to hurt my kids, I didn't go there to hurt her, I didn't go there to hurt her dad,” the 33-year-old Washington Township man testified through tears. “I didn't know her dad was going to be there.”
Jurors watched a videotape of Fairman's interview with police and heard testimony from two psychiatrists about his mental state before the deadly confrontation.
Closing arguments are expected Thursday morning followed by jury deliberations.
Defense attorneys have conceded that Fairman fired the fatal shot on June 3, but they claim he was unable to form an intent to kill because he was severely depressed and extremely intoxicated. Attorneys have agreed that Fairman's blood-alcohol content was .248 percent. A motorist is considered intoxicated at .08 percent.
After firing a shot at Shotts at the North Mahoning Township home of Jessica Shotts, Fairman's estranged wife, he went inside and found her upstairs. Jessica Shotts shot Fairman twice in the shoulder and held him at bay until police arrived.
Shotts had a protection-from-abuse order against Fairman, who received notice on June 2 that she was seeking a divorce.
Fairman, who was dressed in a dark grey shirt and dark-colored tie, was repeatedly asked to speak louder by Judge William Martin and attorneys trying the case. Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Christine Martone said his demeanor on the stand and during the videotaped interview indicates severe depression.
She testified for the defense that Fairman's “impaired judgement and impaired impulse control” rendered him incapable of forming an intent to kill.
“His intent was not to kill somebody, but he was confronted with a gun pointed at him and he impulsively acted out,” Martone testified.
For the prosecution, forensic psychiatrist Dr. Neil Blumberg testified that Fairman's actions throughout the day on June 2 indicated that he was able to form a plan and carry it out. Fairman purchased a rifle from a shop in Smicksburg and procured a revolver from a friend after receiving divorce papers, according to testimony.
“He made a decision that he's going to kill himself in front of his wife,” Blumberg testified.
The jury has the option of acquitting Fairman or finding him guilty of first-, second- or third-degree murder or involuntary manslaughter. The decision hinges on jurors' interpretation of whether Fairman was able to form a specific intent to kill. He faces charges of aggravated assault, burglary and receiving stolen property.
Fairman testified that he didn't want to separate from his wife, but moved out of their Route 210 home anyway in mid-May at her request. In the weeks following, he drank heavily and went to work sparingly.
He committed himself to a mental hospital and left after five days, according to testimony.
Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Monessen home invasion ‘ringleader’ denied leniency
- Red Onion reunion possibly the last for Hempfield coal mining village
- Judge denies former New Alexandria tree trimmer another chance
- Heroin suspect out of Westmoreland County jail on $100K bond
- Ligonier Valley YMCA project in public phase
- Police: Greensburg man had heroin, stolen gun
- Gas meter struck, road temporarily closed near Armbrust Wesleyan Church
- Kecksburg celebrates its UFO history with annual festival
- Girl, 10, forced to strip in Sewickley Township home invasion
- Convicted home invader from Monessen wants new lawyer
- Southmoreland School director named