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A Texas deputy sheriff allegedly shot his paralyzed girlfriend to death, then tried to cover it up as a suicide.
Jay Allen Rotter, 36, called 911 on the night of Aug. 26, claiming that his girlfriend shot herself, according to a Denton Police Department press release issued Monday.
In that 911 call, Rotter identified himself as a law enforcement officer who used to work as a 911 operator, according to an arrest report obtained by Dallas News. He is a deputy with the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office. Rotter told the emergency dispatcher that he was hugging his girlfriend Leslie Lynn Hartman, 46, as she shot herself. Hartman had been in a car crash a few years ago that left her paralyzed; she used a wheelchair as a result.
When police arrived at the scene, they found Hartman dead and they kicked off their investigation. As that investigation into Hartman’s death continued into September, “detectives executed search warrants and analyzed physical evidence.” They now believe Rotter was the one who pulled the trigger and not Hartman
While Rotter initially claimed that he “would have stopped [the shooting] if he could have,” according to the arrest report, investigators allegedly found chat logs that contradicted that claim. They allegedly found messages Rotter sent over Discord, a gaming chat platform, the night of the shooting indicating that the couple were arguing over Rotter firing a gun at a milk bottle in the backyard. Investigators say they later found a milk bottle in the trash with a bullet hole in it.
Rotter allegedly sent a message following their argument stating, “I just sent a 9 millie in this [expletive] hippie."
Additionally, investigators said that Hartman did not seem depressed or suicidal. Rather, she was texting a friend about how “gorgeous” a recent rainfall was, according to the arrest report. She also allegedly texted a friend that day that Rotter “was in a ‘mood’ and would need to sort himself out.”
Hartman's neighbors told NBC DFW that Hartman was upbeat.
"She was artistic, a good neighbor, loved animals," her neighbor Chrissie Clanton told the outlet. "She had actually just adopted a new puppy, so it [the suicide claim] didn't add up."
Rotter was arrested Monday and faces murder and tampering with evidence charges. He is being held on a bond of $1.15 million. It’s not clear if he has a lawyer.
Rotter has been employed with the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office, where he worked in the narcotics division, since 2005. He was deemed the 2011 Operations Deputy of the Year, according to a 2012 post. In a statement, obtained by NBC Dallas-Fort Worth, the sheriff’s department said they are “shocked and saddened” by the allegations. They said they are cooperating with the investigation and that the “truth will prevail.”
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