Sunday, February 01, 2009

What ever happened to ringing the dinner bell?

Reader Matt emails a story about a Memphis woman who shot her husband in the head as he was doing doughnut circles in his truck:

A Millington woman who killed her husband with a .22-caliber rifle while he made doughnut circles in his pickup truck was sentenced today to three years of probation.

As part of a negotiated sentence, Linda Abbott, 40, agreed not to ask Criminal Court Judge John Colton Jr. for diversion, which could have erased the voluntary manslaughter conviction returned by a jury in November. In return, she will do no jail time if she complies with probation requirements....

Authorities initially believed that Abbott died in a violent crash when his truck hit a piece of farm machinery and burst into flames.

When a .22-caliber bullet was found in his head during an autopsy, however, Linda Abbott admitted firing one rifle shot in the air and a second shot that she said was an accidental discharge.

Authorities said the shot traveled some 150 feet across a field behind the house, struck Gary Abbott in the head and caused the truck to crash.

She told a jury the shooting was an accident, that she was trying to get his attention to come to dinner and that she had no reason to intentionally shoot him.


My question may be naive here but should you really shoot off a gun to get your husband's attention for dinner? What happened to ringing a dinner bell?

43 Comments:

Blogger JG said...

It sounds like she only mentioned shooting the gun after an autopsy discovered a bullet in his head.

That's a mighty big coincidence (random shot that hits husband square in the head).

5:36 PM, February 01, 2009  
Blogger JG said...

I know that you can distinguish a contact shot from a shot further away, but I wonder if you could determine whether she really shot the gun from 150 feet away. Maybe the depth the bullet went into the head is related to the distance from which the bullet was shot. Probably not.

She may have just gone up and shot him in the head.

5:40 PM, February 01, 2009  
Blogger campy said...

Obviously, she'll soon claim he abused her.

6:13 PM, February 01, 2009  
Blogger DADvocate said...

A .22-caliber round makes a sound no louder than a firecracker at best. It's the smallest caliber I know of. (I have a .22 rifle.)

Trying to get the attention of someone roaring around in a truck 150 feet away by shooting off a .22 rifle is stupid. I doubt they'd hear it.

Given the circumstances of the shooting, I'm suspicious. Did they find tire tracks that showed he'd been doing donuts? Or were any signs of this obscured by rescuers if the signs existed at all. Did they attempt to find shell casings? If it was an accident, why didn't she tell authorities immediately? Maybe he was driving off trying to escape her attack.

Any evidence could have easily been gone before authorities knew what had happened. We'll never know.

6:23 PM, February 01, 2009  
Blogger Donna said...

With my limited experience in forensics (working on the Masters degree right now in forensic anthropology), .22 discharge is not likely to exit the cranium after initial impact (it has been known to happen but not as a general rule). In addition, the distance from where she shot is not probably determinable unless the shot made no significant headway (pardon the expression) upon entering the cranium. .22 are infamous for getting inside the cranium and rattling around before finally stopping.

Finally, I have to agree with DADvocate that the sound from a .22 is not enough to overcome the engine noise from someone 150 feet away.

It is suspicious to say the least.

7:21 PM, February 01, 2009  
Blogger JG said...

Donna sez:

"In addition, the distance from where she shot is not probably determinable unless the shot made no significant headway (pardon the expression) upon entering the cranium. .22 are infamous for getting inside the cranium and rattling around before finally stopping."

-----------

That sounds right - unfortunately for justice. I think that there is no way to tell how far away the wife REALLY was when the bullet went into his head.

7:30 PM, February 01, 2009  
Blogger nathan said...

guns don't kill husbands. crazy wife do...hey, guns are fun!

7:34 PM, February 01, 2009  
Blogger MikeT said...

Apparently, she has a brother. I wouldn't dismiss this entirely, if you read that link. There are actually people that stupid who get ahold of a gun and think it is something other than a weapon.

7:55 PM, February 01, 2009  
Blogger conservatismrocks said...

And I thought my ex-wife was crazy.

7:55 PM, February 01, 2009  
Blogger Mike Wilson said...

DADvocate: They make 0.17 calibers now. Fun little things to shoot.

17 caliber

10:47 PM, February 01, 2009  
Blogger Mike Wilson said...

(not exactly a stellar link, but it'll do.)

10:50 PM, February 01, 2009  
Blogger Joe said...

I go with the "she's really that stupid" theory.

12:16 AM, February 02, 2009  
Blogger pdwalker said...

Pegged him in the head from 150 feet with a 22?

Nice shot, even if it took her two to properly range him.

12:17 AM, February 02, 2009  
Blogger pdwalker said...

Previous sarcastic comment aside, I don't know if it was an accident, or just pure stupidity, nor should would I even attempt to form an opinion without a lot more information.

It could have just been bad luck.

12:44 AM, February 02, 2009  
Blogger Larry J said...

Hitting someone in a moving vehicle in the head from 50 yards away with a .22 doesn't exactly sound like a random shot to me.

8:33 AM, February 02, 2009  
Blogger JG said...

I think police and prosecutors are much more willing to believe a woman in that situation - especially if she does the tears thing.

I have a strong feeling that lots and lots of women have gotten away with poisoning their husbands or others.

8:38 AM, February 02, 2009  
Blogger Oligonicella said...

I have my suspicions about this one, but my daughter's fiancé was killed by a stupidly accidental discharge that went through a wall and struck him in the temple. It can happen.

10:14 AM, February 02, 2009  
Blogger Wayne said...

Hmm... I just don't believe the shot was intentional, unless she's got a super-high marksmanship rating, because the movement of a vehicle doing donuts is way too hard to predict. On the other hand, she may very well have fired into the air first, then thought that if she fired in the general direction of the truck, that the sound would be more likely to reach him, and didn't take the movement of the truck into account.

A third possibility is that she WAS shooting in his direction on purpose, but intended to hit the truck, rather than him, and again, the movement caused her to accidentally hit him.

10:30 AM, February 02, 2009  
Blogger TMink said...

JG wrote: "I have a strong feeling that lots and lots of women have gotten away with poisoning their husbands or others."

Women are documented to use poisons much more than men in their attempts to kill people. I am sure that MANY of those murders were never solved. Your strong feeling is likely spot on JG.

Trey

11:14 AM, February 02, 2009  
Blogger TMink said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:15 AM, February 02, 2009  
Blogger JG said...

"Women are documented to use poisons much more than men in their attempts to kill people."

-----

There are poisons that are not detectable in an autopsy (with present-day standards), there are other poisons for which a screen is not done during autopsies even though it would be possible, there are many times when an autopsy is not even done, and there are also poisons that mimic other acute illnesses (like a heart attack).

Plus tears on the part of the grieving widow usually work (followed by a quick cremation).

There's a lot of stuff to work with there for a bored woman who has a husband with a big life insurance policy.

11:20 AM, February 02, 2009  
Blogger JG said...

Oh, I almost forgot: I think a lot of coroners are incompetent. That helps too.

11:21 AM, February 02, 2009  
Blogger JG said...

Wayne: It would indeed be difficult to hit a moving target from 150 feet, but here's something to think about:

You're buying HER story. All of this detail came from her.

She may just have walked up to him, and shot him in the head from 5 feet away.

11:23 AM, February 02, 2009  
Blogger Bolie Williams IV said...

She clearly has bad judgment as she was shooting a .22 to get his attention in the first place. It's entirely possible that she didn't realize that her second shot had hit him. If he immediately crashed she may have thought that he just lost control while doing doughnuts and crashed.

1:45 PM, February 02, 2009  
Blogger Bob said...

"He zigged when he should have zagged."

1:48 PM, February 02, 2009  
Blogger TMink said...

JG, good points there. I think there is another angle to it as well.

I have noticed that when one of my patients was abused by a woman, the authorities have a difficult time believing it. It is much harder to prosecute and I have a harder time protecting the children.

My thoughts are that PART of the resistance comes from it being too damn scary to think of women as perpetrators. I mean, who has all the access to the children, who are young children around all day? Women. Who is most likely to kill a young child? Women. Who will the young child (and many grownups) trust the most? Women.

The worst sexual abuse that I am aware of that was not part of ritual abuse was committed by a woman and the Department of Children's Services here in Tennessee refused to even interview the children about it.

I think it is too frightening to know that women are dangerous too, so most people just deny that it is possible.

Trey

1:51 PM, February 02, 2009  
Blogger TMink said...

JG, good points there. I think there is another angle to it as well.

I have noticed that when one of my patients was abused by a woman, the authorities have a difficult time believing it. It is much harder to prosecute and I have a harder time protecting the children.

My thoughts are that PART of the resistance comes from it being too damn scary to think of women as perpetrators. I mean, who has all the access to the children, who are young children around all day? Women. Who is most likely to kill a young child? Women. Who will the young child (and many grownups) trust the most? Women.

The worst sexual abuse that I am aware of that was not part of ritual abuse was committed by a woman and the Department of Children's Services here in Tennessee refused to even interview the children about it.

I think it is too frightening to know that women are dangerous too, so most people just deny that it is possible.

Trey

1:51 PM, February 02, 2009  
Blogger Kim du Toit said...

Whatever the background story, the guy probably had it coming.

My take, based on nothing but some familiarity about how these things go: couple had an argument, guy decided to "show her" and went out to do wheelies and donuts in the yard, she decided to scare him, and when he didn't respond, she either shot a little closer intending to REALLY scare him and got a little too close by accident, or else she took deliberate aim and plugged him through the ear/eye (and excellent shooting if so).

I've heard worse.

From the sounds of things, they probably deserved each other.

Next story...

2:20 PM, February 02, 2009  
Blogger Sad_Dad said...

There's something fishy about this story, if the roles were reversed and it was the man with the gun and the woman in the truck, do you think he would have gotten off with just 3 years probation?

3:31 PM, February 02, 2009  
Blogger TMink said...

Kim wrote: "the guy probably had it coming."

Kim, I do not see how doing wheelies in the yard deserves being murdered. Do you have any information about his behavior, or is this completely based on your own guesses?

I can see how a child abuser or a serial killer has it coming, but my list of people who deserve to be shot in their car is a very small one.

Trey

4:00 PM, February 02, 2009  
Blogger DADvocate said...

Kim - disgusting. People like you is why we have to have laws against lynching.

4:33 PM, February 02, 2009  
Blogger JG said...

I had the same visceral reaction to Kim's statement, but I thought I would hold up on a comment because maybe I misunderstood what he was saying.

Another Internet Tough Guy, I guess.

4:42 PM, February 02, 2009  
Blogger JG said...

The guy had it coming because he may have made a woman uncomfortable in some way.

(Sarcasm)

4:43 PM, February 02, 2009  
Blogger Larry J said...

I'm willing to give Kim the benefit of the doubt unless he says otherwise. There are more than a few people who believe any man has it coming "just because". Like JG said, he might've made a woman uncomfortable or something.

4:55 PM, February 02, 2009  
Blogger Jon Sandor said...

Whatever the background story, the guy probably had it coming.


We'll keep that in mind if you ever show up with a bullet in you, Kim.

10:28 PM, February 03, 2009  
Blogger parabarbarian said...

First, the noise from a 22 depends on several factors. I regularly use 60 gr rounds to dispatch vermin foolish enough to try and raid my garden. Even from a 16" bbl these are much less noisy than most air rifles. However, a high velocity round like the CCI mini-mag or a so-called "hyper velocity" round like the Federal Game-Shok is more like a large firecracker even from my old single shot bolt action with a 24" bbl -- hearing protection strongly recommended.

Second, a head shot from a 22 rifle at at 150 feet (50 yds) is not a difficult as you might think. Any good zombie killer can make a head shot with a 22 out to 50 yds with iron sights or red dot optics. With some practice most can learn to do it at 90 to 100 yds. And yes, I know that zombies don't drive trucks and make donuts in the yard but a good marksman will wait for the second or so when the target is on a predictable trajectory to make the shot.

Or a follow up shot. Which is why her story stinks to high heaven. I'll bet a careful examination of the wreckage would have found evidence of another bullet. The first shot missed and, while Mr. 0.26 BAC stops and stupidly waits for revelation to penetrate the alcoholic haze, Honey Bunch puts a bullet in his brain.

10:19 PM, February 07, 2009  
Blogger Robin said...

para -

A plausible theory, except that the truck was clearly moving when the husband was shot (see third paragraph of story: stopped trucks don't subsequently crash into farm machinery). I could possibly see the gas pedal getting depressed by the dead man's foot, but if he stopped as you suggest, his foot would have been over the brake, not the gas.

No, if the truck crashed after the husband was shot, then it was still moving at the time the bullet entered his brain.

1:14 AM, February 08, 2009  
Blogger John Clifford said...

Oh, give me a break. The woman shot her husband and killed him. End of story.

She should be on trial for manslaughter at the very least, and if I were the prosecutor I'd push for first degree murder. I don't buy her story. Occam's Razor.

Re the truck, a woman who has the gumption to shoot her husband in the head surely has the gumption to arrange the scene so it looks convincing. It's not like this happened in the middle of town with a crowd around.

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10:41 AM, March 08, 2009  
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9:07 AM, May 05, 2009  
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4:22 AM, June 08, 2009  

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