GRIFFIN, Ga. — A teacher assistant is accused of killing her high school sweetheart in the home they shared together.
Griffin police say Mary Katherine Higdon, 24, shot Steven Freeman, 23, in the chest Wednesday night at the house on Sunnybrook Drive.
Investigators say Higdon, who most recently worked as a preschool teacher’s assistant at St. George’s Episcopal School in Griffin, told officers the gun went off accidentally. She said she was in the back room of their home and as she handed the gun to Freeman, it went off.
But police told Channel 2’s Lauren Pozen the evidence says otherwise.
Pozen spoke with the lead detective on the case, who said he couldn’t go into detail because it is still under investigation, but he said based on the evidence at the scene and what’s in the police report, there was intent to kill.
Freeman’s uncle, Judge Josh Thacker, said the families are both in shock.
“The word devastation doesn’t begin to cover it. It’s hard to get through a couple of minutes without crying,” he said.
He says the couple had been together for seven years and their families were incredibly close, even sharing Christmas morning together.
“We’ve lost two people in this. We’ve lost Steven, but obviously our relationship will be changed with Mary Katherine and my heart goes out to the Higdon family because they are doing the same thing,” he said.
Police say they smelled alcohol on Higdon’s breath and she mumbled, but what they were able to make out was Higdon telling them she “didn’t understand what happened since she never kept a round in the chamber.”
Neighbor Jeanette Head said the high school sweethearts were known to argue, but no one expected this. Head said she heard the commotion as police responded around 11 p.m. Wednesday.
“She was out on the porch with the police officers and she said, she was crying, ‘I didn’t mean to do it. I didn’t mean to do it,’” Head said.
Police said they’d been previously called out to the home five times in the past year – four times for animal issues and once for a domestic disturbance.