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Fatal encounter in parking lot detailed

| Sunday, Sept. 25, 2005

A Butler County man testified Saturday that fear drove him to fire an eighth and final shot at his ex-wife's boyfriend as the man lay unconscious.

"I was so afraid at that point I thought he would sit up and attack me, or if he had a gun he would shoot me, I don't really know," Chad Sasse, 28, of Winfield, said during his trial in the Dec. 23 killing of Randall Raida in a Middlesex parking lot. "I was afraid he would have a gun and he was going to shoot me."

Raida, 29, of Hampton, had accompanied Sasse's ex-wife, Rubi Matthews, who was meeting Sasse to pick up their 2-year-old son at about 9 p.m. outside a lumber yard.

Raida charged at Sasse after he pushed Matthews to the ground during an argument about child support payments. Sasse fired eight shots at Raida, hitting him four times.

Sasse appeared calm during two hours on the stand. He was the only person to testify yesterday.

Sasse said he was frightened on the night of the shooting because he had been told his ex-wife had been hanging around "gang members." He said he believed she began using drugs shortly before he moved out of their Saxonburg apartment.

A 1995 Knoch High School graduate, Sasse said his wife sometimes was unable to walk up the stairs. She stayed out late and claimed she suffered from manic depression, Sasse said.

Her drug use and associations caused him to fear for both his own safety and that of their son, Sasse said.

After divorcing Matthews in early 2004, Sasse moved back with his parents and retained partial custody of the child. Concern about the boy led to depression, he said. His parents advised him to seek counseling, he said, but he declined.

"What was bothering me was my son being in that environment," Sasse said. "I didn't want to share that problem with other people."

He said he bought a .32-caliber semiautomatic pistol that he kept in his car for protection when leaving his job at a liquor store near Monroeville. He obtained an application to carry the weapon, but never submitted it.

Sasse said he tucked the gun in his coat pocket before leaving home Dec. 23.

"It was a habit I got into, making sure I took it with me," Sasse said.

Matthews arrived late for their meeting at the H.P. Starr lumber yard parking lot, Sasse said. The pair had argued in a phone conversation en route to the lumber yard, Sasse said.

It's unclear where the boy was when the shooting began.

"I got the gun out of my pocket and fired a shot. I'm pretty sure I missed him," Sasse recalled. "He just kept coming. He got close enough to grab the lapel of my jacket. I think I started firing, I don't remember too much until he was on the ground. I stood at his feet and fired at his chest."

Sasse said he then called 911. He said he was afraid Raida was armed but never told 911 dispatchers or police.

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