- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 23, 2015

HOLLIDAYSBURG, Pa. (AP) - A central Pennsylvania woman is on trial on charges she illegally bought a gun that her boyfriend used when he fatally shot three people, then died in a shootout with police.

Blair County prosecutors contend that Brenda Shultz, 54, of Hollidaysburg, lied when she filled out state and federal handgun purchase forms in 2011, saying the gun was for her when it actually was for her live-in boyfriend, Jeffrey Michael, 44.

Michael used that handgun, and other weapons, when he shot three neighbors, then wounded a state trooper before he was fatally shot by other troopers on Dec. 21, 2012, in Geeseytown, a rural village not far from Hollidaysburg.

District Attorney Richard Consiglio contends Shultz broke the law because she mistakenly believed Michael was prohibited from buying guns due to a protection-from-abuse order obtained by his estranged wife. So the purchase was meant to circumvent the law, Consiglio contends, even though it would have been legal for Michael to buy the gun himself.

Defense attorney Lucas Kelleher said in his opening statement that prosecutors can’t prove Shultz “knowingly and intelligently” broke the law.

The protection-from-abuse order was voided in July 2010, six months before the gun was purchased on Jan. 27, 2011. Further, the gun wasn’t used in the killings and police shootout for 22 more months, Kelleher argued and noted when cross-examining witnesses.

But Consiglio said that doesn’t matter because Shultz told troopers investigating the shootings that she went with Michael to buy the gun, which he picked out and paid for. Trooper Michael Eppolito, who interviewed Shultz, testified Monday that she did that because she believed Michael wasn’t allowed to have guns because of the protection-from-abuse order.

The trial was continuing Tuesday.

The charges against Shultz are the only ones filed in connection with the shootings. The felony she faces, making a materially false written statement, carries up to seven years in prison, while two misdemeanor counts, making false statements under penalty of law, each carry a year in prison. Such penalties are unlikely for Shultz, who doesn’t have a criminal record and is therefore more likely to receive probation if convicted.

State police contend Michael shot Kenneth Lynn, 60; Lynn’s son-in-law, William Rhodes Jr., 38; and Kimberly Scott, 58; at various locations in Geeseytown before he was fatally shot by troopers. That happened after Michael wounded one trooper in the wrist, then slammed his pickup into a cruiser, injuring a second trooper.

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