An Anchorage, Alaska, man is charged with murder after prosecutors said he tried to kill himself with a gunshot and the bullet instead passed through his head and struck and killed his girlfriend, according to multiple reports.
A judge on Sunday entered a not-guilty plea on behalf of Victor Sibson, 21, who was charged with second-degree murder in the April 19 shooting of 22-year-old Brittany-Mae Haag, reports the Associated Press.
Authorities believe Haag was trying to stop Sibson from killing himself when the shooting occurred in the couple’s apartment, said Anchorage Assistant District Attorney James Fayette, according to the Anchorage Daily News.
The handgun Sibson held to the left side of his temple discharged and the bullet exited his head in a “through-and-through” wound, fatally striking Haag in the right side of her chest, Fayette said.
Authorities recovered only one shell casing at the scene, supporting their single-bullet theory, according to the AP.
Haag was initially conscious after being shot and was able to ask a neighbor to call authorities, according to the Daily News. She died later in the hospital.
“What we have is a struggle-for-the-gun suicide attempt that resulted in Mr. Sibson putting a bullet through his own skull … followed by the extreme-indifference killing of a domestic partner,” Fayette alleged.
Haag and Sibson were high-school sweethearts, Haag’s sister Chelsea Hartman told KTVA.
“They always seemed happy. Always hugging, always kissing, always for each other,” Hartman said. “There was no greater love than what they had.”
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Haag’s mother, Sheila Lopez, told KTVA she recognized the selflessness in her daughter’s actions and felt relief after first believing that Haag’s boyfriend of six years had killed her before trying to kill himself.
“I was hurt because Victor has been part of our family. He called me ‘mom,’ ” she said. “Knowing my daughter, I would do the same thing, too. If someone was trying to kill themselves, I would go and try to stop them, and I know that that’s what she would do. So now it makes sense to me.”
Haag worked with rescue animals and talked about becoming a veterinarian, her mother said.
Sibson, who Fayette said was “very drunk” at the time of the shooting — his blood alcohol content at the hospital afterward tested at three times the legal limit — was indicted May 16 on the murder charge and turned himself in to Anchorage police on Friday.
In court on Sunday, Sibson wore a helmet to cover his head injuries and told the judge that he could not afford a defense attorney and was unemployed.
“Could we figure out if I’m guilty or not today?” he said in court, according to KTVA.
He was jailed on a $250,000 bond. The charge carries a penalty of up to 99 years in prison if convicted. It was not immediately clear if he has retained an attorney.
Asked how Sibson survived the injury that he inflicted upon himself, Fayette said doctors saved him after the bullet pierced his brain, reports KTUU.
“It takes extraordinary skill of heroic medical personnel,” he said.