Beaver County woman guilty in niece's shooting
A Beaver County jury on Friday convicted a woman of involuntary manslaughter in the shooting of her niece during a wedding celebration.
Christina Nicole George, 31, of Patterson showed little reaction as the jury foreman read the verdict, which also included a conviction on a reckless endangerment charge. She wept as a deputy sheriff handcuffed her.
Police said George fired one shot into the abdomen of Katelyn Francis, 21, of Fairmont, W.Va., on April 24 outside a New Brighton bar where George and her friends were celebrating George's marriage a few hours earlier.
“The family can now go about their grieving,” Beaver County Assistant District Attorney Brittany Smith said. Francis' family declined comment.
Police said George and her husband, Jeremy Harvan, were in a truck, arguing about who was going to drive it. Harvan told police he and George had been drinking heavily just before the shooting.
The gun, a 9mm Glock, went off accidentally when George was moving it inside the truck, defense attorney Stephen Colafella said Friday during closing arguments. Francis was standing outside the truck.
“She absolutely pulled the trigger; we haven't backed away from that,” Colafella said. “It is a very, very sensitive and dangerous gun. It does not have an external safety mechanism and it fires when you touch that trigger, and it requires very little weight to pull that trigger.”
Colafella and George's family left the courthouse quickly after the verdict.
Smith said George shouldn't have been handling the gun.
“She picked up a gun she had no reason to pick up,” Smith said. “She pulled the trigger.
“She didn't have animosity toward her niece. There's no belief she was trying to kill her niece, but there's no reason for her to pick up that gun,” Smith said.
Prosecutors said George took the gun out of the center console in the truck. Colafella said she moved it from an open glove box “where it was readily available,” and wanted to put it in the console.
Judge Richard Mancini revoked George's bail. A sentencing date hasn't been set.
Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or [email protected].