Judge rules woman's jealous hammer slaying of female lover was first-degree murder

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SOMERSET, Pennsylvania — A Pennsylvania woman who shot her sleeping female lover twice in the head before smashing her face with a claw hammer was convicted of first-degree murder Friday.

Erin Everett's attorneys had argued the March 2011 killing of 21-year-old Tory Minnick was a crime of passion and sought a finding of third-degree murder. Instead, Somerset County Judge D. Gregory Geary agreed with prosecutors who argued the killing was pre-meditated and sentenced Everett to life in prison.

District Attorney Lisa Lazzari-Strasiser said Everett was angry that Minnick was spending time with an ex-boyfriend.

"You can't kill someone just because you're jealous and want them to stay," she argued.

Everett, 28, of Jerome, acknowledged quarreling about the relationship but testified that Minnick was abusive and her defense attorney, Brent Peck, argued that Everett's actions were a reaction to that.

Everett told the court she and Minnick moved into the basement of Everett's parents' home in 2010 but the relationship began to sour around Christmas that year.

Minnick would visit her own home in Meyersdale more frequently and abused Everett verbally, Everett testified. The couple argued about money and relationships — specifically that Minnick had started seeing an ex-boyfriend again — and Everett said Minnick would use rolled up magazines wrapped in duct tape to beat her.

Distraught, Everett testified she got her father's gun and shot Minnick — whom Everett called "the love of my life" — as Minnick slept.

"She was still making noises," Everett testified. "I got a hammer and I hit her in the head."

Everett initially dragged Minnick's body out of bed, broke a front door window, and claimed that an intruder had broken into the home and hurt Minnick.

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