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Amarillo Globe News, The Associated Press
Tuesday, August 17, 1999
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – A feeble, 68-year-old woman, blind in one eye, went on trial Monday for shooting and paralyzing her daughter, who eventually died after winning the right to be taken off life support.
In his opening statement, a lawyer for Shirley Egan told the jury that Egan was “angry, crazy and irrational” from taking Prozac and medication to relieve pain from a 1997 hit-and-run accident.
“Shirley Egan was not responsible for her actions,” attorney Bob Wesley said.
The trial was broadcast live over the Internet by the Florida Circuit Court. It was believed to be the first criminal trial in the nation to be broadcast online by a court, said Valerie Taylor, a spokeswoman for the Virginia-based National Center for State Courts.
Police said Egan opened fire March 8 after overhearing her daughter, Georgette Smith, and Smith’s boyfriend talking about putting her in a nursing home.
Smith was shot in the neck and paralyzed from the neck down, barely able to speak, and incapable of swallowing or controlling her bladder. Saying she couldn’t bear to live in that condition, Smith won the right in May to be taken off life support and died.
Egan originally was charged with two counts of attempted murder for wounding her daughter and shooting at the boyfriend, Larry Videlock, who was not hurt.
Videlock testified that he and Smith treated Egan well, though he said he sometimes called her “piggy” because of her sloppy habits.
Two weeks before the shooting, Videlock said, a social service worker visited their apartment to investigate a complaint that Egan was being abused or neglected. The social service worker left information on where to find a nursing home or find at-home help, he said.
Egan was verbally abusive to her daughter, and Smith was tired each day from taking care of her and working part-time, Videlock said.
After her daughter died, prosecutors considered bringing murder charges but decided against it, citing Egan’s failing health and her relationship to the victim.
Both Wesley and prosecutor Pam Smith told jurors they would see a videotaped deposition taken a day before Smith died in which Smith said she thought the shooting was accidental.
The prosecutor said Smith was such a devoted daughter that she denied until the end that her mother intended to shoot her.
“She does not want to believe that her mother shot her,” the prosecutor said. “She wants to believe it was an accident.”
Egan was brought into the courtroom chained to a wheelchair and spent most of the day with her face buried in a sheet.
Paramedic Tiffany Rinehart, who treated Egan after the shooting, testified that she had retrieved her gun to scare Smith and Videlock.
“She said she was tired of them harassing her and telling her they were going to put her in a nursing home,” Rinehart said. “She said she meant to shoot it over her head.”
Egan, according to the paramedic, said she had $7,300 in the apartment that she intended to give to a charity, but Smith and Videlock wanted the money for themselves.