DERRICK JAMES | Staff photo

Jonathan Tubbs, left, leaves District 18 Special District Judge Brian McLaughlin’s courtroom following a September 2019 preliminary hearing.

Correction: A story that appeared in the Jan. 9 print edition about a trial being set in a case involving a fatal shooting misstated the year of the shooting. The correct year is 2020.

A trial for a McAlester man who claims he “didn’t mean to” fatally shoot his wife in February 2020 is set to begin later this month.

Jonathan James Tubbs, 39, remains in the Pittsburg County Jail on a $1 million bond for first-degree murder in the shooting death of 37-year-old Catrina Pope.

The trial is currently scheduled to begin Jan. 25 at the Pittsburg County Courthouse and would be the first trial since March 2019 when the COVID-19 pandemic began, and rules were put in place in courtrooms statewide to prevent the spread of the virus.

During a September preliminary hearing in the case, McAlester Police Officer Colby Barnett said Tubbs, while being transported to the Pittsburg County Jail, kept repeating that “he didn’t mean to shoot his wife.”

The officer said Tubbs “appeared to be intoxicated” and after he read Tubbs his Miranda warning at the jail, the man admitted during a 30-minute interview at the jail to drinking a fifth of vodka before the shooting.

McAlester Police Detective Lt. Preston Rodgers said he interviewed Tubbs the next day and that Tubbs said Pope “lunged” at him before he shot the woman.

When asked how a person would fall if lunging at someone, Rodgers said the person would follow the motion, but instead of finding Pope lying face down, the woman was found on her back by investigators at the scene.

Tubbs’ defense attorney, Wes Cherry, said to Rodgers that it was “certainly not impossible” for somebody lunging toward somebody to land on their back, in which Rodgers agreed.

Cherry then asked Rodgers if he could duplicate the motion Pope made before she was shot.

Rodgers said that he could not because he wasn’t there.

When asked by Cherry if there was any evidence that Tubbs meant to shoot Pope or had a plan to shoot the woman, Rodgers said “he didn’t have an answer.”

“Is there any evidence to refute Tubbs’ assertion of self-defense?” asked Cherry.

“He told me he didn’t meant to shoot her,” Rodgers said. “He pulled the gun up and he took the shot while she was lunging.”

In a recording of the 911 call made by Tubbs after the shooting, Tubbs is heard telling the dispatcher “she jumped towards me and I shot her in the face.”

Tubbs is then heard saying that he “didn’t do anything wrong” before he is heard telling officers he was on the phone with dispatch as the call ended.

Contact Derrick James at djames@mcalesternews.com

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