A Texas woman charged with first-degree murder was bound over for trial following a Wednesday preliminary hearing in Pittsburg County.
Brenda Burdue Savage, 55, of Del Valle, Texas, was charged January 30 with murder in the first degree in the shooting death of 40-year-old Bart Jameson.
Arguments were made in front of more than 30 individuals in the courtroom gallery that consisted largely of Jameson's family and their supporters.
Pittsburg County District Judge Mike Hogan presided over the hearing with District 18 First Assistant District Attorney Adam Scharn representing the prosecution and McAlester-based defense attorney Blake Lynch representing Savage.
Scharn’s first witness called was Patrick Dunlap, who resided at the residence where the shooting occurred.
Dunlap testified that Jameson, another individual, and himself went to a local bar on South Main Street in McAlester and that Savage was not present at the bar when the three men arrived on the night in question. He said they met Savage when she was “mouthing off” to the bartender’s son.
The man said that he called a taxi for Savage, but she declined the taxi and asked where he lived before a short time later driving Savage’s vehicle to his residence where the group met.
Dunlap testified that while all four individuals were in the kitchen socializing, Savage pulled a gun out and “freaked everyone out.”
He asked Savage to put the gun away and she took the magazine out of the handgun while Jameson unchambered the weapon and that he knew “the gun left her hand,” Dunlap said. The man said the group continued drinking after the incident but that he still felt “freaked out” about the incident.
During testimony, Dunlap said everyone began to move to the living room and that he was trying to get some music to play on his laptop that he had hooked up to his television when he heard a loud pop.
The man said he then saw Jameson fall to the floor and thought Jameson was “playing around” until he saw blood and Savage standing in the walkway between the living room and the kitchen.
Dunlap said that while he performed CPR on Jameson, he heard Savage laugh and he testified that she did not seem concerned about the situation before he heard her say that there was no need for an ambulance because Jameson was dead.
The man testified that he did not know what happened to the gun after it was taken from her by the other man present at the residence.
Dunlap was then turned over to Lynch for questioning and said that Savage was not a friend of his before he met her at the bar when she was being “animated” at the bar. The man said he did not know where Savage pulled the gun from and that he “lost track” of her for a short period of time while the group was socializing.
Lynch asked how Dunlap could see Savage when he was on the computer trying to play music. The man answered that he saw her in his parafoveal vision.
When asked about the 911 call Dunlap made where he told dispatchers that “my friend” was accidentally shot by another friend, Dunlap testified he did say that after he heard the 911 tape prior to the hearing.
Lynch asked if Dunlap used any prescription medication and if Jameson and the other man knew where it was in the house. Dunlap said he had prescription medication in the house, but that Jameson and the other man did not know where he kept it. Dunlap added he did not keep track of his friends at all times.
When asked if he knew who gave Savage the drinks, Dunlap said he did not know.
Dunlap also testified to Lynch that investigators on scene did not do any forensic testing on him nor did he see any tests conducted on the other man or Savage.
The next witness called by the prosecution was McAlester Police Officer Daniel McHenry, who was the first officer on scene.
McHenry testified that he detained Savage after he was told that she shot Jameson. After he saw the man lying on the floor, he then heard Savage say that an ambulance was not needed because Jameson “was dead,” McHenry testified.
The officer said he attempted to perform CPR on Jameson but could not do it properly due to the wound in Jameson’s chest.
McHenry said he received written statements from Dunlap and another man that was present at the residence. The officer said he took photos of the residence before finding the pistol and a spent casing in the carpet.
During Lynch’s questioning, McHenry testified that Dunlap and the other man were intoxicated and that one of the statements was “illegible.”
The officer said that Savage seemed calm, which was “weird for a shooting.”
McHenry also testified that he did not do any other evidence collecting other than photos and the retrieval of the weapon and bullet casing and that an unspent round was not found.
After questioning ended on two of the four witnesses subpoenaed for the hearing, Scharn made an oral motion to strengthen bond that was overruled by Hogan.
Lynch asked for a demurrer, citing that Dunlap calling the shooting “an accident” did not meet “malice aforethought” for first-degree murder.
Sufficient evidence was found by Hogan to bind Savage over for trial with District Court arraignment scheduled for 10 a.m. July 31.
After the hearing, Lynch was disappointed in the decision due to the lack of evidence presented by the prosecution.
“Clearly we’re disappointed that the judge bound it over based on the evidence,” said Lynch. “The State had the opportunity here to show not just my client, but the people that showed up here for this hearing what the evidence was and instead of showing us what the evidence was, they showed us almost nothing. I think if anybody is looking for justice here, they left with more questions than answers at the end of the day.”
Scharn said the hearing went just as he expected it to go.
“I anticipated the defenses that Lynch raised,” said Scharn. “There wasn’t anything real unexpected or surprising.”
Scharn said he only called the two witnesses due to the low burden needed for a preliminary hearing.
“I had four witnesses subpoenaed and I felt like I only needed to call two,” Scharn said.
Due to the overruling on the prosecution’s motion, Savage will remain free on the original $100,000 bond which she placed through a bondswoman on January 31.
Contact Derrick James at firstname.lastname@example.org