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Bluefield woman slain over kids' fight, police say

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- State Police said a Mercer County mom shot and killed another woman Thursday night after their children fought on a school bus.

Judith Helen Kowaleski, 42, of Bluefield, was charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Elizabeth Slagle, 42, also of Bluefield, State Police spokesman Sgt. Michael Baylous said in a news release.

Troopers were called to Slagle's house along Nicholas Road just after 9 p.m. in regard to a shooting. Troopers found Kowaleski and her aunt, Barbara Harrington, there performing CPR on Slagle.

Paramedics took Slagle to Bluefield Regional Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.

Kowaleski told troopers she got a call from Slagle early Thursday because Slagle was upset about a fight their children had on the school bus.

After several phone calls and text messages, Kowaleski gave her phone to her aunt, who continued to text Slagle, according to a criminal complaint filed in Mercer County Magistrate Court.

Eventually, Harrington told Kowaleski to walk to the end of their road to meet Slagle, and to take something to protect herself with. Kowaleski grabbed a handgun, according to the complaint.

At the end of the road, Kowaleski and Harrington met Slagle and they began to argue about their children. According to the complaint, Slagle said she had a gun and would shoot Kowaleski and Harrington.

Kowaleski said when she went to walk away, Slagle ran at her with a Taser in her hand and it hit her in the neck. Kowaleski said she "just tried to get her off, and the gun went off," according to the complaint.

Kowaleski said she had the gun in her hand from the time she left her house until she met Slagle. She was being held without bail Friday evening in Southern Regional Jail.

Reach Travis Crum at travis.crum@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.


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