Suspect’s mother says shooting was accident

TUESDAY, OCT. 9, 2012, 2:57 P.M.

The mother of the man charged with shooting his girlfriend in the face said the alleged victim now claims that the gun dropped, fired and shot her accidentally.

Superior Court Judge Annette Plese, however, said that regardless of how the injury may have occurred she believed 30-year-old Joshua Graham was both a flight risk and a danger to the community and ordered him held in the Spokane County Jail on a $250,000 bond.

Graham was arrested Monday after Spokane police got a tip to his location. Investigators dispute the accidental injury claims and want Graham charged with first-degree assault and felon in possession of a firearm after his 19-year-old girlfriend, Justine K. Fry, was shot in the face with a .22 caliber pistol on Oct. 1.

The bullet entered near Fry’s nose and lodged near her spine. She recently was released from the hospital.

In court today, Graham’s mother, 53-year-old Donna Hilliard, said she spoke with Fry on Monday and Fry told her that the shooting occurred following an argument.

“She’s blessed to look the way she does,” Hilliard said of Fry. “Of course I don’t condone it. I’m blessed that she’s OK.”

Hilliard said Fry told her the young couple was arguing about her having a gun when the shooting took place.

Graham “was yelling at her about having the gun in the house and it dropped and that’s how she got shot. She just kept saying it was an accident,” Hilliard said.

After Fry suffered the gunshot wound, Graham called 911 and helped her into a car.

“Does that sound like somebody who just shot someone in the face?” she asked.

Asked why her son, who got out of prison after a five-year stretch this spring, didn’t turn himself in to police, Hilliard said he was scared.

“She has a large family … who was looking for him,” Hilliard said of her son. “Half of her family is in jail. He said they threatened his life. That’s why he didn’t turn himself in.”

But Plese was not impressed with Hilliard’s plea to reduce her son’s bond. She noted that Graham has two prior convictions for violating protection orders, has five prior arrests for domestic violence and 13 prior failures to appear in court.

“So I do have concerns about her safety,” Plese said of Fry. “I’m very concerned about flight risk and danger to the community.”

Hilliard said her son got out of prison in May after spending five years on a drug conviction.

“He’s not a bad person. I want my son home. I don’t know how this is going to play out,” she said. “I don’t want my son to go to prison for the rest of his life for this. I know it looks bad on paper, but that’s not my son.”

According to court records, Fry initially refused to say that Graham shot her, but she later told detectives that “he threatened her by pointing a handgun at her head” and then she was shot.

Hilliard is also named in the police report, which noted that she “was trying to protect her son from criminal charges and initially misled Detective (Ben) Estes about her son possessing a firearm.”

Hilliard then said she knew her son had a gun for six days prior to the shooting and had been “arguing with her son and encouraging him to get rid of the weapon due to his criminal past and because she does not allow handguns in her home,” court records state.

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