I really wish sometimes that the news reports (TOM) would take just a little consideration for the families when writing a story like this. I'm sure Tonia's Mom didn't need to read some of these statements.....
Garber testifies early in Amato caseBy TOM GIAMBRONI (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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LISBON - Although murder suspect J.C. Amato Jr.'s trial is still more than two months away, one of the first officers on the scene was able to testify during a court hearing held Friday.
Former Wellsville police officer Mike Garber, who now works for the Perry Township Police Department, was in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court to give his deposition in the Amato Jr. case because he expects to be in Iraq by the time the trial begins on Aug. 18. Garber is in the Army Reserves and his unit has been called to active duty.
Amato Jr., 37, has admitted shooting his wife, Tonia, at their Wellsville home on July 1, 2007, but claims it was in self-defense after she shot at him with a handgun while they were arguing. Garber said he was off-duty that day when officer Joe Rayl advised him there had been a shooting at the Amato Jr. residence.
The officers went to the house and were met at the kitchen door by Amato Jr.'s father, Dr. Jack Amato, who told them his son was in the living room. Amato Jr. was sitting on the couch, holding a gun in his hand, and he reportedly told the officers, "She came at me. I had to do it."
Amato Jr. put down the handgun after being ordered to do so, and the officers spotted Ms. Amato lying face-down next to the couch in a pool of blood, with her right hand over a small pistol and a finger resting on the trigger. The gun was cocked.
After Amato Jr. was taken into custody, Garber said they asked the visibly shaken Dr. Amato to check his daughter-in-law for any signs of life, which he did. "(Dr. Amato) paused and said I think she's gone, and then he left the room," Garber said.
EMTs and other officers began arriving, so Amato Jr. was taken back to the police department. Garber said he advised Amato Jr. of his Miranda rights after placing him in the cruiser but didn't question him, leaving that to others.
At the police department, Amato Jr. began speaking voluntarily about what had occurred, so Garber said he started recording his comments on his cell phone, although it was periodically interrupted whenever he received a call. The recording was later transferred to disc.
According to Garber, Amato Jr. told them he was asleep on the couch and awoke "with a gun in my face." Amato Jr. then reportedly said he was sitting on the couch arguing when she tried to shoot him, saying he could feel the air pass by from his wife's errant shot. Amato Jr. said he returned fire and "dropped" her with a perfect shot to head. She was shot between the eyes, resulting in an exit wound in the back of her head.
Garber said Amato Jr. also made comments to the effect that despite what transpired, his 25-year-old wife planned to stand by him and "she wasn't leaving me and running off like my first wife did."
Amato Jr. had blood on his hands, which he said came from lifting his wife's head to determine if she was still alive. After police officers refused Amato Jr.'s request for permission to wash his hands, he reportedly told them he "felt like Lady Macbeth."
This could be a reference to Shakespeare's "Macbeth," and one of the lines from the play is "Out, damn'd spot! Out I say!" Lady Macbeth's husband killed the king of Scotland, and she speaks this line while imagining that a spot of the king's blood stains her hand.