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Ohio Woman Charged In Thanksgiving Shooting Allegedly Posted On Social Media While A Fugitive
“She has a good self defense case and I would leave it at that,” Michael Peterson, Katia Chappell’s defense attorney, told Oxygen.com.
An Ohio woman who evaded arrest for more than a month in connection with the deadly shooting of a 29-year-old woman on Thanksgiving Day has now been indicted.
Katia Chappell, 28, pleaded not guilty during her arraignment in court on Wednesday in last year’s fatal shooting of Domonique Nicole Johnson, court filings show.
Chappell is accused of opening fire on Johnson and another woman, killing Johnson and injuring her compansion as the pair sat inside a vehicle together in the early morning hours of Thanksgiving Day.
Chappell was captured by the U.S. Marshals Service in Maple Heights, Ohio on Jan. 12. The 28-year-old has been charged with aggravated murder, murder, attempted murder, felonious assault, tampering with evidence, and carrying concealed weapon, according to a six-page indictment obtained by Oxygen.com.
On Nov. 25, Cleveland police responded to a shooting and related vehicular crash near a metal coating plating at around 2:30 a.m., according to a police report obtained by Oxygen.com. Upon arrival, emergency responders found Johnson and another woman suffering from gunshot wounds. Johnson was later pronounced dead at a local hospital. The other victim, a 23-year-old woman, survived, but hasn’t yet been identified by law enforcement.
An exact motive in the shooting isn’t clear but police allege it stemmed from a dispute that had arisen moments before shots were fired.
"Chappell allegedly got into a verbal altercation with two females," the U.S. Marshals Service said in a press release sent to Oxygen.com. "The altercation escalated, ending with Chappell shooting Dominique Johnson."
Chappell’s defense attorney insisted his client shot at Johnson in self-defense in the midst of an argument.
“She has a good self defense case and I would leave it at that,” Michael H. Peterson told Oxygen.com. “It wasn’t just a shooting, it was an argument and a threat made to my client before the shooting happened by my client, who we believe shot in self-defense.”
Prosecutors further accused Chappell of brazenly posting on social media in connection to the shooting while she was a wanted fugitive.
"The defendant discussed the crime on social media," Lexi Giering, a spokesperson for the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office told Oxygen.com in a statement.
Officials declined to elaborate further on the specific nature of the posts.
“This matter is currently pending, and we respectfully decline to comment at this time,” Giering added.
Chappell’s lawyer — who said he hasn't viewed the posts in question — said he only recently learned of his client's alleged social media activity from prosecutors during a bail hearing.
“When she said that in court, the prosecutor, I was shocked because I never heard that before,” Peterson said. "I have not seen those posts yet...I knew nothing about it before that was brought up in court — nothing — so I can’t even comment on it.”
Peterson said he'd attempted to facilitate Chappell's surrender with the U.S. Marshals Service, but she was arrested before the arrangements could be finalized. His client, he explained, is four months pregnant.
“The next thing I know I get a call from her family that the Marshals arrested her before they could turn her in,” he explained. “She wasn’t running anywhere. She wasn’t hiding.”
Officials haven’t released additional information regarding the open case. The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office declined to comment on Chappell’s pending trial on Tuesday when contacted by Oxygen.com.
Chappell is being held on $1,000,000 bond at a county detention facility, according to separate court records obtained by Oxygen.com. A judge has ordered her to have no contact with the victim’s family or surviving victim. A pretrial court date has been set for Feb. 24 at 11 a.m. in Cuyahoga County court.