A bride is charged with shooting and killing her niece on her wedding night after getting into an argument at the post-wedding celebration. Christina George-Harvan, 30, was celebrating after her wedding at a bar with niece Katelyn Francis, 21. However, the celebratory night took a turn for the worse when the bride, groom, and Francis got into an argument over who should drive home. Bride Christina is charged with third degree murder and involuntary manslaughter after she shot her niece inside her new husband’s van during the argument.
The Daily Mail reports that Christina and Katelyn started the evening on good terms. The newlywed and her niece were getting along well and drinking at the Jimmy K’s bar in New Brighton, Pennsylvania, after the wedding ceremony. The bride recalls how happy she was prior to the incident and how much she cared for her niece.
“I was happy … she was so cute. We were only nine years apart. The first thing she did was say, ‘Aunt Tina, I’m so happy for you,’ and gave me a big hug.”
However, at some point in the evening, the bride and groom began to drink heavily. As the couple continued to drink they became somewhat belligerent and wanted to drive home. As the groom, Jeremy, exited the bar to attempt to drive home, Francis began arguing with them and offered to be their designated driver. Christina says that Francis suggested she drive them home, but in their drunken state they declined. Francis pressed the couple and Christina says she followed them to their vehicle. Once inside the vehicle, Christina says things became frantic.
The bride says that as Francis was arguing with the groom over who should drive home, she noticed a gun in her husband’s glove compartment. She said she thought to herself, “I gotta move this gun.” However, in the process of moving the gun in the passengers side of the vehicle, it discharged, hitting Francis, who was standing outside of the driver’s side of the vehicle, and killing her.
“When I turned around, the glove box is open and I see this gun. I think I gotta move this gun. I go get it out of the glove box to move it and boom the gun goes off.”
CBS notes that bride Christina acknowledges that she was the one holding the gun when it went off, but says she didn’t pull the trigger. Therefore, the defense had a Former Pennsylvania State Trooper, Frederick Wentling, testify on how easy it is to discharge a weapon if inexperienced in handling a gun.
“If you put your thumb in … if you pick it up sideways, and put your thumb in there and pull it back, it will discharge. It’s supposed to. It doesn’t know what’s pulling it to the rear.”
The new bride says that she was devastated by what happened to her cousin and that it was all a terrible accident.
“I felt devastated. It was like a nightmare. Your wedding day is supposed to be the best day of your life and my niece is dead.”
The defense team says that the shooting was entirely accidental and are seeking an acquittal based on the “excusable homicide by misadventure” doctrine. This doctrine states that the defendant was careless but did not have criminal intent.
Do you think the drunken gun-wielding bride should be found guilty of third degree murder or involuntary manslaughter in the case? Or do you think the bride’s case should be acquitted based on the misadventure doctrine?
[Image Credit: Getty Images/ Joe Raedle]