Woman ac­cused of killing son faces trial

Judge re­jects self­de­fense ar­gu­ment at pre­lim­i­nary hear­ing

Times Standard (Eureka) - - LOCAL NEWS - By So­nia Waraich swaraich@times-stan­dard.com

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.

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