A teacher's assistant is accused of shooting and killing her high school sweetheart — but she claims his death was entirely accidental.
Mary Katherine Higdon, 24, shot 23-year-old Steven Freeman in the chest at their Griffin, Georgia home on the night of August 1, according to WSBTV in Atlanta. Freeman later died at Spalding Regional Hospital shortly after the incident. The two had been together for seven years.
Higdon, who works as a teacher's assistant at St. George’s Episcopal School in Griffin, told police the gun went off as she handed it to Freeman. She said she was not sure why the weapon fired, as she normally kept it unloaded.
Police told WSBTV that Higdon's story does not match the crime scene — and evidence suggests an intent to kill — but officials would not go into further detail as the case remains under investigation.
Cops at the scene said they smelled alcohol on Higdon's breath.
The victim's family remains in shock.
“The word ‘devastation’ doesn’t begin to cover it," said Freeman's uncle, Judge Josh Thacker, told WSBTV."It’s hard to get through a couple of minutes without crying ... We’ve lost two people in this. We’ve lost Steven, but obviously our relationship will be changed with Mary Katherine and my heart goes out to the Higdon family because they are doing the same thing.”
A neighbor who recalled the couple's frequent arguments was nonetheless surprised to hear the news.
"She was out on the porch with the police officers and she said, she was crying, ‘I didn’t mean to do it. I didn’t mean to do it,’” Jeanette Head told WSBTV.
Police added that they had been called to the home five times in the past year: four over animal issues and a fifth over an unspecified domestic disturbance.
Higdon now faces charges of murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
[Photo:Spalding County Sheriff’s Office]