BRISTOL, Tenn. ? Linda Whitaker shot her husband in the back for choosing a Super Bowl playoff game over her, prosecutors told a judge Tuesday.
"Mom said, ?You know what made me do it,? " read a statement that Sullivan County sheriff?s detectives said they took from Carl Ruesch, her son by a previous marriage.
"Mom was begging him to be nice to her. Mom said that she was hoping he would come and sit with her and be a husband to her. ... He said, ?No, I?m watching football.? ... Mom shot him in the kitchen. She shot him again ?cause he wouldn?t die."
Prosecutors introduced the statement as the judge reduced a felony theft charge against Ruesch, 26, and sent the case to a grand jury.
Ruesch shook his head and wiped away tears as he flipped through the statement?s pages.
"Liar," he whispered as a detective testified.
His mother ? already indicted on a first-degree murder charge ? could return to Tennessee next month from North Carolina, where she?s fighting extradition.
Prosecutors said Whitaker shot her 60-year-old husband, James, with his own pistol as he made a salad Jan. 23 in the kitchen of their home on Brookside Lane in Bluff City.
"They argue all the time," the statement read. "He talks of divorcing her and taking the house. ... She says she was going to shoot him all the time."
Ruesch, a convicted thief and drug dealer, stole a box of silver coins and fled with her that night to North Carolina, authorities said.
Detectives originally believed the coins were worth more than $25,000 but couldn?t find all of them, sheriff?s Lt. Ty Boomershine testified.
General Sessions Judge Klyne Lauderback reduced the theft charge to a lesser felony on those grounds.
Investigators believe Ruesch spent some of the coins playing slot machines at casinos in Cherokee, N.C.
"I took the coin collection when we were packing," the statement read. "Mom started packing makeup. I wanted to get the (expletive) out of there. I didn?t want to see the body laying there."
A deputy found James Whitaker?s body two days later after he missed work.
Cherokee tribal police said they found Ruesch and his mother the same night ? Jan. 25 ? unconscious and near death from drug overdoses at a motel room on the Qualla Boundary Reservation. They also found the coins and a methamphetamine lab, according to court records.
Mother and son took prescription drugs in a suicide attempt, according to the statement.
"Mom is getting a lot of pills online," the statement read. "Mom kept talking about killing herself. I told her to wait. ... I didn?t want her to leave me alone. ... I wanted to die with my mom."
A helicopter took them to a hospital in Asheville, N.C., where they recovered the next day. Ruesch told his story to investigators there, Boomershine said.
"I remember asking him if he knew why we were there," the detective said. "He answered by saying, ?I guess you found Jim.? "
Authorities told Ruesch his mother accused him of the killing. He blamed her, Boomershine said.
"God brought me back so I could find out Mom did this to me," the statement read. "I did not shoot Jim. I watched my mom shoot Jim. ... I never forced her to do anything. I never touched the gun."
Ruesch told authorities he heard the first shot from downstairs. His stepfather, who was watching the New England Patriots play the Pittsburgh Steelers, had just argued with his mother.
"I heard one shot from my bedroom," the statement read. "When I ran upstairs, I heard another one. He was laying on his face. The blood was all bubbly. He was moaning. ... Mom shot him again so he would stop moaning."
Whitaker shot her husband about four times, authorities said, at least once in the back and at least twice in the head after he fell.
Ruesch told investigators he and his mother left about half an hour later and ended up in Cherokee the next day, tossing the gun and other belongings in a trash bin in Virginia along the way.
"We didn?t have a destination," the statement read. "We just drove."
Ruesch said he left the motel room a day later, came back and found his mother in a coma, according to the statement.
"Mom was lying on the bed with pills everywhere," the statement read. "She wouldn?t wake up. ... Mom wouldn?t even wait on me to die. She ate all the strong pills."
Ruesch waived extradition soon afterward and returned to Tennessee.
The judge set Ruesch?s first appearance in Criminal Court for March 18, although the grand jury might not deal with his case before then. He remained in jail Tuesday night.
Whitaker remained in jail in Sylva, N.C., with an extradition hearing set for March 8.
She and Ruesch still face drug charges there, but authorities postponed those cases so the murder case in Tennessee could email@example.com
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