- Associated Press - Thursday, May 12, 2016

WINDBER, Pa. (AP) - A Pennsylvania man charged with attempted homicide and other crimes has apologized for mistakenly shooting the mother of his intended target and said in court testimony that his girlfriend had hired him to kill her ex-boyfriend.

Cortland Michalides, 22, testified Wednesday after waiving his right to a preliminary hearing on charges stemming from the March 20 shooting of Theresa McDonald.

Outside the courtroom, he apologized, telling reporters: “I am sorry that it happened that way.”

Michalides testified he shot McDonald in the jaw when she confronted him after he sneaked into her home in Windber during the night. He said he fired a sawed-off .22-caliber rifle at the first silhouette he saw in the house.

Somerset County prosecutors say McDonald’s son, Codi, was the intended target, and Michalides testified that his girlfriend, Heather Singer, 32, had hired him to kill Codi McDonald, her ex-boyfriend.

Singer’s defense attorney, Caram Abood, suggested she wasn’t as involved as Michalides claimed.

“She didn’t pull the trigger,” Abood said, adding that Michalides’ “motivation was not hers.”

“He had his own mind,” Abood said. “Thank God he’s a poor shot.”

The bullet shattered McDonald’s jaw, injured her salivary glands and settled next to her spinal cord, where it remained. She’s scheduled to have surgery to remove the slug Friday now that it’s finally moved far enough from her spine to make the procedure safe.

Michalides testified he went through with the shooting because he felt he needed to protect Singer; he didn’t say what the threat to her was. He said he heard McDonald scream and he ran from the house. But when he got in the car, Singer urged him to return to the house, and he refused, he testified.

“You didn’t complete the job. Why didn’t you go and shoot him?” Michalides said Singer asked him.

The couple bought some cigarettes at a convenience store and drove back to McDonald’s house, but by then emergency crews had arrived so they left, he testified.

Michalides and Singer remain jailed awaiting trial.

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