Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

July 26, 2013

Kowaleski placed on house arrest

BLUEFIELD — A woman charged with first-degree murder in connection with a texting squabble that led to gunfire has been granted home confinement as a condition of bond.

 Judith Kowaleski, 42, of Brushfork, was arrested March 28 and charged with first-degree murder in connection with the death of Elizabeth Slagle, 42, of Bluefield. Slagle was shot at the intersection of Falls Mills and Nichols roads during a confrontation. The women had exchanged phone calls and text messages earlier that day after an altercation between their children aboard a school bus.

The case wasn’t presented to the June session of the Mercer County grand jury because the incident is still under investigation, Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ash said.

However, Ash said he expects to have the case ready to be presented to the October session of the grand jury.

Ash said Kowaleski has been placed on home confinement as a condition of her bond.

“I think it’s pretty much what the judge refers to as a lockdown,” Ash said of the home confinement. “There are a lot of things she’s not allowed to do.”

Investigators said at the time of the arrest that a kicking incident between the children of the two women on a school bus led to a heated exchange of text messages between the two women that ended with a confrontation.

During an earlier preliminary hearing in April, Trooper J.C. Teubert of the West Virginia State Police Detachment in Princeton testified that when he arrived at the scene March 28, two women were kneeling next to a woman lying on her back. One, Kowaleski, was giving Slagle CPR. She had also tried to use her shirt to stop the bleeding, he said. Slagle had been shot in the chest with a .38 caliber handgun.

A pink hand-held taser — not a model that fires projectiles — was found next to Slagle, Teubert said in the earlier testimony. A search warrant was obtained and a .38-caliber Rossi revolver was recovered at Kowaleski’s nearby home. The gun had one discharged round; it can hold five bullets.

Defense attorney Ryan Flanigan argued during the earlier preliminary hearing that the incident was unintentional and not first-degree murder.

Flanigan argued that Slagle was shot by accident when Kowaleski tried to evade a hand-held stun gun Slagle allegedly attempted to use on her. Flanigan said Kowaleski called Mercer County 911 after Slagle was shot, tried to give her first aid, and attempted to give her CPR.

Ash said the case won’t be scheduled for trial until it is presented to the grand jury this fall.

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