UPDATE: Mother Indicted After School Bus Argument Leads to Fatal Shooting

By: Rahel Solomon, WSAZ News Staff, Associated Press Email
By: Rahel Solomon, WSAZ News Staff, Associated Press Email
A grand jury has indicted a Bluefield woman accused of killing another woman after a heated exchange of text messages.

(Courtesy Photo / WVVA)

UPDATE 10/19/13 @ 7:30 a.m.
PRINCETON, W.Va. (AP) - A grand jury has indicted a Bluefield woman accused of killing another woman after a heated exchange of text messages.

The Associated Press reports that 43-year-old Judith Helen Kowaleski is charged with first-degree murder in the March shooting death of 42-year-old Elizabeth Slagle of Bluefield.

Police have said the two had clashed in text messages and phone calls after an altercation between their children aboard a school bus. Slagle was found shot once with a .38-caliber handgun. A pink hand-held stun gun was found next to her body. A .38-caliber handgun with one bullet discharged was later found at Kowaleski's home.

Defense attorney Ryan Flanigan said at an April preliminary hearing that Slagle was shot by accident after she tried to use a stun gun on Kowaleski.

UPDATE 3/29/13 @ 6:30 p.m.
MERCER COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ/WVVA) -- West Virginia State Police say a mother is dead and another in jail following a deadly shooting.

"These women had been texting each other back and forth and decided to meet to settle their differences," West Virginia State Police Sgt. M.T. Baylous said.

The shooting happened Thursday night at the intersection of Route 123 and Nichols Road in Brushfork. According to investigators, the shooting was the result of an argument following an earlier alteration on a school bus between the two mothers' children.

Judith Kowaleski, 42, of Bluefield, has been charged with first-degree murder in connection with the shooting death of Elizabeth Slagle, 42, also of Bluefield.

According to the criminal complaint obtained by our NBC partner, WVVA, Kowaleski, her aunt and Slagle apparently exchanged phone calls and text messages before meeting at the location where the shooting occurred.

Witnesses at the scene, including Kowaleski's boyfriend, said Slagle had 'tased' Kowaleski and a relative who accompanied her to the scene before she was shot.

"The lady (Kowaleski) said she had shot the victim on the ground said she (Slagle) pulled out a Taser gun," said witness Brendy LaRue.

The complaint states that the boyfriend told troopers that Kowaleski shot Slagle.

Kowalski said she was trying to shield herself from Slagle when the gun went off.

"When I pulled in I saw somebody laying on the ground, thought it was a little kid, somebody was giving him CPR," LaRue said about Kowaleski performing CPR on Slagle.

Slagle was transported to Bluefield Regional Medical Center where she died from a single gunshot to the chest.

Troopers recovered the alleged murder weapon at Kowaleski’s residence. Her aunt told troopers she took the gun back to the home.

Kowaleski was arraigned Friday morning. She is being held without bond at the Southern Regional Jail.

Troopers are investigating how a disagreement between children could lead to a death.

Baylous said "I just wish that they would have taken the right steps and approached school administrators or handled in a different manner than turning to violence like this."

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