A local woman who fatally shot her boyfriend during a domestic violence incident has been sentenced to five years of probation.
Misty L. Fitzhugh, 34, originally faced a murder charge in the death of Jeff Bartley, 43, on April 22. She later pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter as part of a plea deal offered by the state Attorney General's Office. Fitzhugh spent 54 days in jail before being released following the plea deal offer.
According to authorities and testimony during Fitzhugh's preliminary hearing:
On April 22, Fitzhugh and Bartley were at a turnout on Rowdy Creek Road when they got into an argument. Bartley began beating Fitzhugh, who had tried to leave the turnout in his truck.
Fitzhugh eventually called for help. Bartley's nephew came with a rifle. When he reached the couple, they were in a fight. The nephew put the rifle down to get Bartley off Fitzhugh. Fitzhugh grabbed the rifle and shot Bartley.
After her arrest, several people attended Fitzhugh's court appearances to support her, including Bartley's mother.
She also addressed the court at Fitzhugh's sentencing in support of the plea deal that allowed her to stay out of jail by completing alcohol and drug and battered women's programs.
Bartley's mother said she feared Bartley herself when he was on methamphetamine, saying she "would sleep with a pistol under the pillow because he would be extremely violent," court documents state, adding that the mother stated she believed anyone would have done what Fitzhugh did.
"I was in a domestic violence situation for five years," Fitzhugh said in a letter to the court. "I was scared that Jeffrey Bartley was going to kill me in the last part of the relationship ... I am so very sorry, I wish I could take that day and pain away."
Reach Anthony Skeens firstname.lastname@example.org.