Shooter’s girlfriend waives hearing
HOLLIDAYSBURG – The woman who police say lied when she bought a handgun used in December by Geeseytown killer Jeffrey Lee Michael has waived her preliminary hearing on felony and misdemeanor charges.
Brenda E. Shultz, 52, of 107 Lower Reese Road maintains her innocence and will fight the charges, her attorney, Lucas Kelleher, said Tuesday outside Magisterial District Judge Paula Aigner’s office in Hollidaysburg.
Michael, Shultz’s live-in boyfriend, used a Taurus .45-caliber handgun during a shooting spree Dec. 21 along Juniata Valley Road in Frankstown Township that claimed the lives of three people.
Police allege Shultz bought the handgun for Michael in January 2011 but claimed in paperwork filled out for the purchase that the gun was for her.
The Blair County District Attorney’s Office and Kelleher decided Tuesday to forego the hearing to see if there was enough evidence to send the charges to court. Instead, they will address those issues as well as other motions once the case goes before a Blair County Common Pleas court judge.
Kelleher said Shultz remains distraught over the deaths of neighbors Kenneth Lynn, 60, his son-in-law, William H. “Bill” Rhodes Jr., 38, and Kimberly Scott, 58.
Michael was killed in a subsequent shootout with state troopers after crashing into a police cruiser on Juniata Valley Road.
After an investigation, state police allege Shultz admitted to investigators she bought the gun, telling police the couple believed Shultz was under a protection-from-abuse order that would have made it illegal for Michael to buy the gun himself. The order, however, had already been lifted.
Shultz was charged Jan. 25 with a third-degree felony and two third-degree misdemeanors related to the sale, but Kelleher pointed out the time frame between the purchase and the incident make it hard to show a connection.
“We don’t believe there is any correlation to those events,” Kelleher said of Shultz’s purchase of the gun in early 2011, more than a year before the killings. Kelleher said the law is ambiguous regarding the accusation that she lied on state and federal paperwork asking if she was the purchaser of the gun and whether it was intended for her or someone else.
Kelleher said Shultz lived with Michael before and after the purchase and said he believes the facts of the case will support his client’s position that both were buying the gun, so her statements were not materially false. Michael, Kelleher pointed out, was legally able to buy a gun himself and did legally own other guns during that time.
Deputy District Attorney Wade Kagarise said the case is unique because Michael and Shultz were in a relationship and although most straw purchaser gun cases involve people buying guns for others who are somehow prohibited from doing it themselves, the fact remains Shultz bought the gun for someone else and lied about it.
“The facts show the defendant purchased the firearm and at the time she intended to give it to another person,” Kagarise said.
Shultz remains free on an unsecured $50,000 bond and is next scheduled to appear in Blair County Court on April 5.