The case of a Brushfork woman facing a charge of first-degree murder is now heading to the Mercer County grand jury.
Judith Kowaleski, 42, of the Brushfork area, appeared this afternoon for a preliminary hearing before Magistrate Jame Dent. Kowaleski was arrested and charged with first-degree murder after the March 28 shooting death of Elizabeth Slagle, 42, of Bluefield.
The incident occurred at the intersection of Falls Mills and Nichols roads approximately a mile west of U.S. Route 52. Investigators said at the time of the arrest that a kicking incident between Kowaleski’s and Slagle’s children on a school bus led to a heated exchange of text messages the ended with a confrontation. Slagle was shot in the chest with a .38 caliber handgun.
After hearing testimony from Trooper J.C. Teubert of the West Virginia State Police Detachment in Princeton, Dent ruled there was probable cause.
Defense attorney Ryan Flanigan argued that the shooting was a “tragic, tragic accident,” and didn’t meet the standards of first-degree murder. Assistant Prosecuting Attorney John McGinnis said the fact Kowaleski had brought a gun when she met Slagle indicated premediation.
McGinnis later said that he was not sure if the case would be ready in time for the next grand jury in June.
Following a lengthy preliminary hearing, Dent found probable cause to bound the case over to the next session of the Mercer County grand jury.
Kowaleski is being detained at the Southern Regional Jail in Beaver.