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Man with History of Chilling Abuse Allegations Shot Dead on the Side of the Road

Kathleen Jourdan, then a medical resident, called authorities in 2020, saying she'd shot her husband, Joshua Jourdan. Their 7- and 4-year-old sons were in the back seat of their car.

By Joe Dziemianowicz

A man’s life — and a marriage marked by alleged abuse — came to a shocking end on the side of a Nebraska interstate highway.

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On June 17, 2020, a frantic call came in to police in nearby Cozad. Kathleen Jourdan, 31, a medical resident, told authorities that she had shot her husband, Joshua Jourdan, 35. Their 7- and 4-year-old sons were in the back seat of their car, NBC affiliated-station KNOP reported.

"Joshua died from two gunshots, one to the side and one to the chest," journalist Lisa Fischer told Kill or Be Killed, airing Saturdays at 9/8c p.m. on Oxygen.

Five guns, including the Glock that was used to shoot Joshua, were taken from the Jourdan vehicle.

For more from Kill or Be Killed:
Man Fatally Shoots "Drunk" Friend After Night of Christmas Shopping, Then Claims Self-Defense

Grandmother Shot Grandson and Kept Firing During His Desperate 911 Call: "I'm Gonna Die"
How to Watch Oxygen's Kill or Be Killed, Which Explores Gripping Self-Defense Murder Cases

Why did Kathleen Jourdan shoot husband Joshua Jourdan?

Kathleen told police that the whole family was moving to Scottsbluff, Nebraska, where she was set to finish her medical residency. The spouses’ rocky relationship was aggravated that day because she’d had car problems.

“Kathleen told the police he was upset,” said legal analyst Janeen Mira. In a recorded police interview, Kathleen said, “He raises his fist,” and that she saw “that look that I’ve seen before... I reacted.”

That's when she “pulled the gun out and shot him twice,” Fischer said.

Josh Kathleen Jourdan Kill Or Be Killed 103

Kathleen Jourdan claims self-defense

“I think it should be ruled as a self-defense,” Kathleen told police in the taped interview. “I was pushed to a breaking point.”

Kathleen said that Joshua had a history of hurting her. Police verified that there was a recorded domestic incident in Georgia in 2017.

“But when police talked to her that day... she had no bruises, no lacerations, nothing,” said Fischer of the day Joshua was killed, adding that despite being a doctor in training, it didn’t appear that Kathleen “made any attempt to save his life.”

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Kathleen told police, “I wanted out,” as seen in Cozad Police Department body camera footage from the day of the shooting. "That immediately made police suspicious that the intent of the crime was not self-defense, but murder," according to Fischer.

Another red flag arose when Kathleen told police that six days before shooting her husband, she had a Facebook Messenger conversation with a friend in which “she describes how to get away with the perfect murder,” said Mira.

Who was Joshua Jourdan?

Investigators learned more about Joshua, who grew up in a religious family in small-town Washington. He and his first wife, Jessica, had two children before getting divorced.

Joshua had been a firefighter. When Kathleen was going to medical school, he became a stay-at-home dad. The couple’s marriage was marked by violence and fighting.

Asked by police about how she felt about killing Joshua, Kathleen said, “I’m relieved because I know he’s not going to hurt me.”

Kathleen Jourdan gets charged with second-degree murder

Kathleen was charged with second-degree murder. Her mother came from Washington to care for the boys. Kathleen maintained she shot in self-defense.

Under the legal system, the law allows you to use deadly force if you believe you’re facing an imminent threat of death or great bodily harm and have no other option.

“Kathleen was facing 20 to life,” said her defense attorney Brian Davis. “If the jury thought for a second that she had choices about what she was going to do in that moment [she pulled the trigger], we would lose.”

The defense team learned that Kathleen and Joshua met as volunteer firefighters in Washington and married in March of 2012. They moved to Grenada, where she attended medical school and had their second son.

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The couple’s relationship was marred by troubles. Kathleen is heard recalling how she once angered him and he “punished” her. “He had me kneel in the shower and he peed on my head,” she said.

Like many people in abusive relationships, Kathleen struggled with leaving. “A lot of it has to do with fear, fear of more abuse,” said Mira.

“We had to get a jury to understand how a battered person’s brain and decision-making change over time,” said Davis. “A person in an abusive relationship lives with a mountain lion.”

“They learn what cues are present when the mountain lion may be turning on you,” Davis added. “When she started seeing these cues, she reacted.”

Davis and co-defense attorney Brian Copley dug deep into the Jourdan marriage. They learned Kathleen filed for a restraining order and a divorce in 2017.

When Joshua threatened to take custody of the kids, Kathleen had the restraining order dropped. The couple’s relationship temporarily improved.

Kathleen Jourdan featured on Kill Or Be Killed Episode 103

Kathleen and Joshua Jourdan's toxic marriage and shocking "sex contract"

After Kathleen gave birth to a baby girl, Amelia, who tragically died in 2019 from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), the couple’s situation worsened quickly. “I was blamed for her death,” Kathleen said.

In the wake of Amelia’s death, Kathleen turned to alcohol to drown her grief. “I would drink a fifth of vodka a day,” she said. The fighting got more toxic and volatile. Joshua recorded their arguments, according to Kill or Be Killed.

At one point, “Josh just took the two boys and went back to his parents in Washington,” said Davis. Josh eventually returned home on the condition that Kathleen signed an agreement.

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In addition to establishing his claim to a percentage of Kathleen’s income, he attached a sex clause. Davis read Joshua’s contract that Kathleen signed: “I agree to sexual intercourse with Mr. Jordan anytime he requests 24 hours a day.”

“The sex contract really speaks volumes to who Josh is and to the abuse that was perpetrated on Kathleen,” said Copley.

Kathleen Jourdan's murder trial begins

On March 3, 2022, Kathleen’s murder trial began. The district attorney asserted that Kathleen had a volatile temper and alcohol issues and that she feared she’d lose her two boys by filing for divorce, according to Davis.

“And after failing to get out of the relationship,” prosecutors said, per Davis, “she found another way.”

A forensic pathologist told the court that the first gun shot was to Joshua’s side and that it wasn’t a fatal wound, according to Fischer.  

“As a physician, she knew the anatomy well enough to know that she fired that gun a second time knowing she just sealed the deal,” said Fischer.

Jurors had to consider whether “Kathleen wanted to shoot her husband or had to shoot,” said Mira.

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Prosecutors pointed out that Kathleen had had an affair as an example of what one prosecutor called “a very shaky relationship with the truth.”

“I think the evidence makes it pretty clear that the defendant lost her temper and lost control and killed her husband,” the prosecutor added.

The defense team knew they had “a credibility problem,” said Davis.

On the stand, Kathleen recounted past violent incidents, verbal and emotional abuse, the sex contract and events that led up to the shots fired on June 17.

Asked if she intended on killing her husband, she said no. She fired the gun, she said, “To protect myself.”

Joshua Jourdan's ex-wife gives stunning testimony

On the stand, Joshua’s ex-wife, Jessica Jourdan, recalled a violent incident during her marriage to him. She described being six months pregnant when he “started spitting on me. Then he anally raped me.”

“Jessica Jourdan’s testimony showed Josh's abusive nature was there and that Kathleen was telling the truth about an abusive situation,” said Davis.

RELATED: After Her Son Was Violently Murdered in Las Vegas, This Mom Now Helps Others Cope with Grief

On March 11, 2022, the jury deliberated for just over four hours, according to the Lincoln Journal Star. They delivered a verdict of not guilty.

“It was like the opposite of your life flashing before your eyes when you're dying,” Kathleen told Kill or Be Killed. “It's almost like life coming back.”

To learn more about the case, featured in the episode “A Fatal Fork in the Road,” watch Kill or Be Killed, airing Saturdays at 9/8c p.m. on Oxygen.