- Associated Press - Monday, September 19, 2011

LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) — The man accused of killing his wife and then shooting two church pastors had been sentenced to probation for killing a previous wife years earlier, according to court records.

Jeremiah Fogle, 57, was charged with murder and attempted murder after Sunday’s shootings. During a hearing Monday, he was ordered held without bond and assigned a public defender. Neither he nor his lawyer spoke in court.

Authorities said he killed his wife, Theresa, and then wounded a pastor and associate pastor. The congregants were bowing their heads in prayer when Mr. Fogle burst in. Church members were able to tackle him, take away the gun and hold him until deputies arrived.

Years before that, Mr. Fogle pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of his wife, Diane. He was sentenced in 1987 to 10 years’ probation.

An affidavit from that killing states that Mr. Fogle answered the door holding a rifle and showed an Avon Park police officer the body of his wife, Diane. His 10-year-old stepson told investigators he heard Mr. Fogle call an ambulance and say he shot someone and wanted to kill himself.

Diane Fogle’s daughter, 31-year-old Shekema Clark of Tampa, Fla., said Monday the couple had been married only about five months when her mother was shot on the bedroom floor.

Ms. Clark, who was 6 at the time, said that her stepfather was an argumentative husband and that her mother refrained from arguing back.

Ms. Clark said she didn’t know Mr. Fogle had not served prison time until she heard of Sunday’s shootings.

“If you already killed one person and got away with it, why would you do it again? It’s disturbing,” she said.

Authorities and relatives said the Fogles had been members of the Greater Faith Christian Center Church before starting their own ministry out of their home.

Derrick Foster, a teacher at Greater Faith, told the Associated Press he heard gunfire and screams before he and another man tackled Mr. Fogle.

“The first thing in my mind was, ‘I have to take this gun away,’” said Mr. Foster, who was among the 20 or so people at the Sunday service at the Greater Faith church.

Mr. Foster saw the man near the pulpit, turning around with the gun in his hand.

“He had a great grip on the gun,” Mr. Foster said. “My plan was, as soon as he hit the floor, it would cause him to drop it — but he didn’t drop it.”

Mr. Foster said it took three or four minutes of struggle before he finally wrested the weapon away.

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