Don Houser stood over Angie LaSarte’s body.
“Oh my God, I accidentally shot her,” he screamed, as the mother of four lay bleeding on the ground. In his right hand, he still gripped the silver .22-caliber handgun he had shot her with.
LaSarte died a short time later.
Houser sat wide-eyed in federal court Wednesday as he heard witnesses describe these details to a panel of jurors in federal court.
It was the second day of testimony in his second-degree murder trial.
Defense attorneys contend Houser, 22, of Plummer, Idaho, accidentally fired the gun during a struggle with his ex-girlfriend. However, a witness said Wednesday that LaSarte was shot before she even had a chance to struggle with her attacker.
Other witnesses testified that Houser had abused the woman and had even threatened to kill her prior to the shooting.
Angie LaSarte, 39, was the daughter of longtime Coeur d’Alene Tribal chairman Bernard “Happy” LaSarte.
She and Houser had been dating for about 18 months but had broken up about two weeks before the shooting at a bar in Plummer.
On Tuesday, LaSarte’s 16-year-old daughter Angella James testified that she watched Houser grab her mother by the hair. He then told LaSarte that he would kill both himself and her if she ever got another boyfriend, the girl testified.
John George, a neighbor, said that he watched Houser knock LaSarte to the ground several times during a fight.
“It was a volatile relationship on both sides,” insisted Roger J. Peven, chief trial attorney for Houser’s defense.
“Sometimes she won the fight, sometimes he did.”
On Wednesday, Tracy Otto testified that she saw the suspect at Bobbi’s Bar the night of June 10. LaSarte was also at the bar with another man. Houser started arguing with the man his ex-girlfriend was with and then tried to hit him over the head with a beer bottle, Otto testified.
LaSarte and others broke up the fight and Houser eventually left the bar.
Irvin “Sonny” Falcon testified that he watched Houser get into an argument with several people in the parking lot and then walk to his truck.
LaSarte, who had come out of the bar, walked over to her old boyfriend. Houser grabbed the woman with his left hand and then brought his right hand toward her face.
“I thought maybe he punched her, maybe an upper cut” Falcon said. “That’s when he said ‘I accidentally shot her.”’
“She fell down like a sack of potatoes,” Falcon said. “I could see blood coming out of her neck.”
Peven insisted Wednesday that the two had struggled over the gun causing it to accidentally fire.
But Falcon testified that he never saw LaSarte raise her hands to defend herself or struggle with the gun.
The bullet pierced one side of LaSarte’s neck and came out the other side. On its way, it ripped a hole in her windpipe allowing blood to fill her lungs, said Pathologist George Lindholm.