By Alan J. Keays, VTDigger
A Mount Tabor woman facing a murder charge listened Tuesday, March 14, to a 911 recording in which she told police her husband shot himself. Prosecutors contend the call was a ruse, to cover up her shooting of David Shores.
“911, where is your emergency?” the dispatcher asked Peggy Shores. Then the dispatcher confirmed Shores’ phone number and address on Brooklyn Rd in Mount Tabor, Vt. “What’s going on, ma’am?”
“My husband fell with his gun,” Shores, 51, tells the dispatcher, her voice at times breaking and halting. “Please get somebody here, quick.”
“Ok, he fell where, ma’am?” the dispatcher asked.
“On the stairs,” she replied. “He fell with his gun.”
The dispatcher said, “Did it discharge?”
“Excuse me?” she responded.
“Is he breathing?” he asked.
“Yes,” Shores replied.
The dispatcher said, “Ok, is he injured anywhere?”
“Yeah,” Shores told him.
“Ok, how is he injured?” the dispatcher asked. “Does he have a gunshot wound?
Shores responded, “Yes.”
‘Ok, where?” the dispatcher asks.
“He was walking up the stairs,” Shores told him, “I didn’t think the gun was loaded. I don’t know if he knew it was.”
She added, “He missed a step and fell on his elbow.”
The dispatcher, his voice getting louder, assured Shores help was on the way.
“Where did he get hit?” he asked her.
“I’m not sure,” Shores answered.
“Ok, can we put something on it to help with the bleeding?” the dispatcher said to her.
“Get somebody here, please, quick,” Shores replied.
Seconds later the call drops.
The tape ended there and Rutland County State’s Attorney Rose Kennedy told the judge, “that’s when she disconnects.”
The call lasted under 2 minutes.
In Rutland criminal court Tuesday, Shores sat next to her attorney with her head down at the defense table as prosecutors played the tape of the 911 call.
Shores made the call at about 7:30 p.m. Dec. 11 seeking medical care for her husband, David Shores, 54, who had been fatally shot inside the home.
In a show of support, three rows of friends and relatives, from both her and her late husband’s sides of the family, sat on benches behind Peggy Shores in the courtroom.
Peggy Shores was arraigned on a second-degree murder charge last month. She entered a not guilty plea through her attorney and has been held without bail since.
The 911 call was played to determine if Peggy Shores would continue to be held in jail without bail pending her trial.
After hearing the tape in court Tuesday, Judge David Fenster went back into his chambers to review affidavits from police, the medical examiner and forensic experts. He was expected to return to the courtroom to hear arguments from attorneys. But due to blizzard conditions, the court closed for the remainder of the day, and the hearing was not continued. The date of the next hearing was not immediately available.
Prosecutors say forensic evidence shows there is no way David Shores could have shot himself based on the location of his wound and the trajectory of the bullet.
Investigators allege that the gun was fired from a distance and that he couldn’t have shot himself.
The evidence, the prosecutor and police investigators say, points to the only person in the home other than David Shores at the time of the shooting: his wife, Peggy Shores.
Peggy Shores has contended that her husband accidentally shot and killed himself. She told investigators her husband was walking up stairs from their home’s cellar, carrying a loaded .44 Magnum revolver when he tripped, fell, and the gun went off, according to court records.
An autopsy, conducted by Dr. Steven Shapiro of the state medical examiner’s office, showed that David Shores suffered a gunshot wound to his upper left side, below his collarbone, a police affidavit stated.
Shapiro said it appeared the shot, which had a downward trajectory, came from a distance because there was no contact wound.
Also, the doctor said, the gunshot was not instantly fatal. The bullet didn’t strike the heart, according to Shapiro, meaning that David Shores was alive for a “time duration” after the shot was fired.
Attorney Steven Howard, representing Peggy Shores, has said the entire case against his client is “circumstantial.” It is based, he said, on “assumptions,” with nothing to show his client ever held the gun or pulled the trigger setting off the fatal shot.
The investigation, which spanned more than two months, included police re-creating scenarios inside the Brooklyn Road home, using measurements and other evidence collected in the probe.
That showed, according to investigators, a trajectory “consistent’ with a shot fired from the upper stair area, including the living room. Peggy Shores told police she was at the top of the cellar stairs when her husband fell.
If convicted of the murder charge, Peggy Shores faces 20 years to life in prison.
Photo courtesy of Vermont State Police
Peggy Shores has pleaded not guilty to a charge that she fatally shot her husband, David Shores.