Woman accused of killing son faces trial
Judge rejects selfdefense argument at preliminary hearing
A judge decided Friday afternoon that there is enough evidence to hold a Eureka woman for trial in the fatal shooting of her son earlier this year.
Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Kaleb Cockrum decided there was enough evidence presented at the preliminary hearing to hold Pamela Millsap, 38, for trial on charges of voluntary manslaughter and two counts of child abuse. Evidence presented at the preliminary hearing over the course of three afternoons indicated Millsap shot her son with a shotgun during an argument during which Conflict Counsel April Van Dyke said she feared for her life and the life of her 10-year-old daughter.
However, Cockrum said, “This was a non-deadly situation that became deadly and dangerous to human life and the emotional wellbeing of her children by bringing a firearm that was loaded into the argument.”
There were several “pivot points” that took the situation from being involuntary to voluntary manslaughter, Cockrum said, but he added there was enough evidence that could be presented to the contrary at trial.
There were several points that were important to point out, he said.
Cockrum said that even though Millsap’s son threatened her and her daughter, testimony indicated her son didn’t attack her nor did he block his mother’s path when they were in the middle of an argument.
“I think it’s also important to point that the threats that he made were almost always not carried through and especially the violent and deadly threats that he made,” Cockrum said. “That seemed to be a coping mechanism rather than an actual 422.”
The ammunition and shotgun that eventually killed John Doe were stored in separate rooms, which would have meant Millsap would have had to take the time to load the shotgun, he said.
After Millsap raised the gun at her son and he pulled it toward his neck, she eventually had to pry it away from him and lowered the gun.
“According to the statement of Jane Doe, her mother raised the gun again,” Cockrum said. “John Doe then lunged for the firearm. There’s where we go from knowing what happened where we go into conscious disregard for human life.”
Van Dyke argued that John Doe was 18-years-old, out-of-control and threatening her and her 10-year-old daughter. Because she has health issues, she wouldn’t have been able to drive away and protect her or her daughter, she said.
“When he’s holding that gun, he says, ‘I’m going to kill you,’” Van Dyke said. “These threats were not general threats of killing or violence. He had thought about it. He said, ‘I’m ready to go to prison.’ He said that ‘I could kill you and my sister and get away before the cops even got here.’”
However, Deputy District Attorney Whitney Timm said John Doe at no point attacked Millsap or her daughter and the violent interaction was created by Millsap, though “there were many, many other avenues that she could have taken.”
John Doe said he was going to leave but got upset and began to cry when Millsap brought out a shotgun, Timm said.
He was a 17-year-old teenager that Millsap allowed to become frequently drunk, Timm said.
“These things all factor into a parent having a legal duty to care and protect their child,” she said. “So she allowed him to become intoxicated, in this state, she did nothing about it. And now her emotionally disturbed child is having an upset moment confronting her about the abuse that he suffered at her hands and she brings a loaded firearm into the situation.”
Millsap could have taken a variety of actions, including asking him to leave or talking to him, before grabbing a firearm, Timm said.
Millsap will be arraigned on the information presented at the preliminary hearing at 8:30 a.m. July 9.
She is being held at the Humboldt County jail on $35,000 bail.