Shooting suspect's wife testifies at trial in Jackson County courtroom
February 10, 2010, 12:30AM
Peggy Gardner said she watched her husband leave their house the night of April 3, 2007, wearing dark sweats and a long coat.
Angry about his vehicle or house windows being broken and under the impression neighbors were the culprits, he told her he was going to "get even," she testified Tuesday at Trent Gardner's trial, which is scheduled to continue today.
Trent Gardner, 41, is accused of using a sawed-off shotgun April 3, 2007, to shoot at a group of children outside a house in his neighborhood at 1031 S. Jackson St.
Shells loaded with rock salt hit Montrece Simpson, then 10, and Antrana Brown, then 15. The two were flown to the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor. After months of hospitalization or therapy, both recovered.
Peggy Gardner, who was often emotional Tuesday, said Trent Gardner was gone five to 15 minutes the night of the shooting and returned acting "worked up" and anxious. He pounded on the locked front door or rang the doorbell for her to let him into the house, she said.
Earlier that night, she had seen him "fine tuning" a shotgun, she said, answering questions posed by Assistant Prosecutor Jessica Sutherland. Defense lawyer Jerry Engle is to question Peggy Gardner today.
Sutherland referred to past statements Peggy Gardner made to police or in court, which at times contradicted her statements Tuesday.
When she testified at a preliminary examination in June and talked to Jackson police Detective Brett Stiles last spring, Peggy Gardner said she was taking Prozac, a medication used to treat depression. The drug made her paranoid, suspicious and enraged, and she no longer takes it, she said.
More than once Tuesday, she said she was afraid. "I don't want to be in trouble," she said.
She said she threatened her husband for months, saying she would talk to police about the case before she finally went to authorities last year.
"I wanted to fight with him that day. I was tired of taking it," she said.
Before she took the stand, several Jackson police officers testified.
Officer Peter Postma said he went to Trent Gardner's home at 1041 Williams St. hours before the shooting. Gardner reported a window on his pickup truck had been damaged.
Postma said he acted "frustrated" and blamed the crime on people who walked up and down the street with their pants hung low.