|Wed, Sep 17, 2014 01:35 PM
|Issue of September 10, 2014
November 20, 2013 | 08:52 AM
Calling it a case of self-defense, Harrison County Prosecutor J. Otto Schalk said Friday that no charges will be filed against a Ramsey woman who shot and killed her boyfriend earlier this year.
On May 20, Kristy Thevenot used a .45-caliber handgun to shoot Joe Johnson, 33, in the chest. A trooper with the Indiana State Police who was nearby responded to the scene. When he arrived, he found Thevenot on the front porch of the home at 1365 S.R. 64 in Ramsey and Johnson, who was inside the home, with an apparent gunshot wound to the chest.
Despite the efforts of first responders, Johnson succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.
"At this point, the case is closed," Schalk said. "We've met with the family of Mr. Johnson and explained our decision to (Thevenot) and her family, and, based on evidence collected by Indiana State Police, no crime was, in fact, committed. The evidence was very clear that this was an abusive relationship and, in the hours preceding the fatal shooting, (Thevenot) had suffered broken ribs, he'd bloodied her nose and there was evidence he was putting a pillow over her face until she blacked out."
Schalk said Thevenot had been abused for "several hours" prior to the shooting and, under Indiana law, the shooting was justified as self-defense.
"He was shot from four to five feet away at the time of the incident," Schalk said. "(Thevenot's) testimony was that he was reaching back to hit her again and she had the decision at that point to ultimately protect herself."
Johnson was shot once in the chest in a bedroom of the home.
A next-door neighbor said the couple seemed to argue a lot. Another neighbor who saw the couple the morning of the shooting said Johnson was "up to no good" and being verbally abusive toward Thevenot earlier in the day.
Schalk said Johnson's family was disappointed in the decision but not angry.
"They are from Kentucky, and they were more upset with the scope of the self-defense law in Indiana, which they felt gave too great an ability to claim self-defense," Schalk said.
The prosecutor went on to say that Indiana's self-defense law is very similar to Florida's, and the George Zimmerman case was very similar to this case here.
"In Indiana, as in Florida, you do not have to retreat; you have a right to defend yourself," Schalk said. "When serious bodily harm was imminent, she made the decision to protect herself inside of her home.
"The first thing we have to do is always look at the law then apply the facts to the law," he said. "This was not a close call. This was a decision I was required to make under Indiana law."