Wife tells of fatal fight — (The Post and Courier)

SSRI Ed note: Man starts taking new antidepressant, resumes alcoholism after being dry for years, attacked wife's disabled son, she shoots, kills him.

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The Post and Courier

By Nadine Parks

Thursday, November 20, 2008

As husband beat her disabled son, she says she went and got her pistol.

HONEY HILL ­ Doris Montgomery said she shot and killed her husband Tuesday night as he attacked her 47-year-old disabled son.

A day later, she reflected on the horrific fight in the front yard of their rural Berkeley County home and wondered if she had done the right thing.

“If I had it to do over, I would have just jumped on him and he would have had to beat me,” the 67-year-old homemaker said. “I loved him. I don’t care what he had done. I loved him, and I know he loved me.”

Montgomery said Richard Shoaf, 50, was a good man ­ when he wasn’t drinking. He had struggled with alcoholism much of his life, but February marked three years without a drop, and the couple who had dated for eight years finally married.

Things went downhill from there.

Montgomery said he beat her several times, and she had recently caught him drinking beer. On Tuesday, he was drinking again and had smoked some marijuana. He had just started taking a new antidepressant as well, she said.

The concoction of alcohol, illegal drugs and prescription medicine threw Shoaf into some type of psychotic rage Tuesday night, the family said.

He’d been to Moncks Corner earlier in the day to pick up bones from a barbecue restaurant to give to the family dogs. Then he picked up Harry “Chris” Worten, his stepson, at Worten’s home in Jamestown. They headed to Mount Pleasant in the family pickup truck to sell a load of wood.

Worten said he knew right away that something was wrong.

“It was like he was a different person,” Worten said. “He wouldn’t say anything in the truck.”

On the ride back from Mount Pleasant, Shoaf started driving erratically, and at one point Worten asked to be let out. But Shoaf kept on driving, and they made it safely to the couple’s mobile home on Old Oakhill Road.

Then Shoaf attacked.

“He just flipped out right there and went crazy,” Worten said. “He got out of the truck. He started hitting me, and he knocked the breath out of me. He jumped on me and started hitting me, and he grabbed me by the neck and started choking me.”

Worten couldn’t defend himself because his right arm was paralyzed in a 1983 motorcycle accident. Shoaf was a big, strong man.

“He had me frightened to death,” Worten said.

Montgomery heard the commotion and came outside. She said she yelled at Shoaf and begged him to stop. But he wouldn’t, so she went inside and got her pistol.

She fired once and missed.

“He looked at me and laughed,” Montgomery said.

The second bullet struck, and Shoaf looked up at his wife in disbelief. Then his body went limp with Worten trapped under him on the ground. When the stepson managed to wriggle out from beneath him, Montgomery called for an ambulance.

It was too late. Shoaf was dead.

“If momma hadn’t been there and had that pistol, he would have killed me,” Worten said. “I’ve known him for several years. We got along well. I don’t understand. I just don’t know what triggered this.”

Montgomery was not arrested. Berkeley County deputies said she cooperated with them, and the solicitor’s office will determine if any criminal charges are warranted.

Reach Nadine Parks at 937-5573 or nparks@postandcourier.com .