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Defendant claims suicide, not murder was his intention

Renatta Signorini
| Thursday, April 25, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

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.

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