Woman’s murder trial starts in Tionesta

By BEN KLEIN

bklein@timesobserver.com

A packed Forest County courtroom on Thursday listened to the recording of a 911 call Ruth Angert made on the night when she is accused of shooting and killing her husband at their camp in Tionesta Township.

“My name is Ruth Angert. I just shot my husband,” Angert was heard saying in a 22-minute emergency call that brought tears to her eyes and members of the audience during the first day of her two-day trial.

Angert, of Butler County, is charged with aggravated assault, criminal homicide, criminal attempt aggravated assault, involuntary manslaughter and criminal attempt criminal homicide in the alleged shooting death of her husband, Larry Angert, 60, at their cabin in 2012.

Forest County District Attorney Elizabeth Ziegler told a jury of six men and six women that Angert left a turkey party she and her husband were attending at the Tionesta Fire Hall on Nov. 17, 2012, and walked back to their cabin.

At some point after her husband returned to the cabin, an argument ensued which Angert contends turned violent.

Ziegler told the jury the condition of the cabin does not show a room where a physical confrontation had taken place, as Ruth Angert had claimed.

Instead, Angert removed a hand gun from a bag on the kitchen table and before she could point it at her husband, he reached for the gun, which discharged one round through his jacket, his cheek and out the top of his head, Ziegler said.

“‘What did I do?,'” Ziegler said Angert later asked in an interview with the Pennsylvania State Police.

Todd Woodin, Angert’s public defender and his co-counsel Elizabeth Feronti told the jury in his opening statement that Angert left the turkey party in anger after her husband had been looking at another woman. Whether the suspicion was real or not, Ruth Angert left and went to their cabin on Tubbs Hill Lane, Woodin said.

Larry Angert later returned to the cabin intoxicated, Woodin said, and shoved his wife to the floor when she tried to leave the cabin. As she pulled the handgun, a Taurus International .38 special, from a bag on the kitchen table, “he’s on me,” she told police in the interview.

Angert called 911 after the gun was fired and began life saving action, Woodin said, describing the 911 call played before the court as “a lady going through 22 minutes of hell.”

Woodin told the jury in his opening statement Angert’s interview with the state police was not a confession, but a statement of fact with only one possible verdict.

Dr. Eric Vey, a forensic pathologist in the Erie County Coroner’s office used a Styrofoam model of an adult male’s head to show the angle and trajectory of the bullet that killed Larry Angert.

Ziegler asked Bey if an autopsy would reveal if CPR had been administered or not. Bey confirmed that many bodies he’s examined showed signs of CPR and depending on the force “one will see rib fractures.”

There were “no fresh rib fractures” evident on Larry Angert, Bey testified, adding he had collected blood, clothing, finger nail clippings and gun shot residue samples from Angert during his examination of the dead man.

During cross examination, Woodin asked Bey if shoving or holding down a person would leave marks, to which Bey said no.

Due to the padding on the palms of hands, it’s “possible to grab or restrain without leaving marks on your hands,” he said.

Later testimony from a Pennsylvania State Police Corporal from Marienville showed Larry Angert’s hands had been swabbed at the corner’s office, but a gun-shot residue test had not been done, even though testing was requested. Testimony revealed the lab refused because it was known the victim was at the scene were the gun was discharged.

The trooper also testified she did not observe any marks on Ruth Angert the following day or on Angert’s chest, neck and back area when she was photographed three days later on Nov. 21.

Cross examination from Wooding revealed Ruth Angert was photographed from the mid-chest area up but was not examined for bruising on the night of the incident. A fingerprint analysis to show Angert’s prints on the gun was also not performed.

While questioning Jason Wagner, a Pennsylvania State Police Criminal Investigator that interviewed Angert, Ziegler asked if she indicated she shot her husband in self defense.

“She did not,” he said.

“Did she indicate she got the gun to protect herself?” Ziegler asked.

“No,” he said adding she did not mention she was fearful when she went to the kitchen to get the gun.

The trial was adjourned at about 5:40 p.m. Thursday and will resume at 9 a.m. today with a continuation of the prosecution’s case.

Judge Gregory Hammond, who is presiding over the trial, indicated that he plans to conclude the trial today.

Angert remains in custody at the Warren County Jail.