Man claims dog tripped him, caused him to fatally shoot wife

A 25-year-old San Miguel man accused of involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of his wife told a sheriff’s investigator his dog ran underneath his feet, tripping him and causing the handgun to mistakenly fire at her.

John Aaron Norris was in Superior Court on Tuesday for the start of his preliminary hearing — which is scheduled to resume Friday at 10:30 a.m. in Judge Michael Duffy’s courtroom.

Norris has pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter charge and to allegedly possessing an illegal weapon at his home — a semiautomatic rifle found by investigators.

Norris told sheriff’s officials he shot 24-year-old Tasha Dawn Norris on the morning of July 9 at their home in San Miguel on the 500 block of 11th Street.

During questioning from Deputy District Attorney Matt Kerrigan, sheriff’s Deputy Matthew Terrell testified that Norris told him he was standing on the stairs when the dog ran under his feet and tripped him.

Norris had been handling the semiautomatic pistol because he was planning to remove the ammunition before fire inspectors came to his home later that day to examine new sprinklers in the condominium.

“He indicated the gun went off and the bullet struck his wife,” Terrell testified.

Tasha Norris was seated on a couch in the home when she was shot, according to investigators. Medics attempted to revive her, but she was pronounced dead at the scene.

It was unclear in Tuesday’s testimony how far away she was seated from Norris when the shooting occurred.

Norris told authorities that the dog was typically kept in another room of the home and not allowed out.

During questioning from defense attorney Ilan Funke-Bilu, Terrell noted that Norris was crying and would “zone off” at times during the interview.

Norris applied pressure to his wife’s wound to stop the bleeding, Terrell testified.

“He wanted to continue to help his wife,” Terrell said.

But sheriff’s officials wouldn’t let him because the medics were there and caring for her, Terrell said.

Terrell said that Norris told him he was familiar with weapons because of his training in the military.

Funke-Bilu said outside court that his client has no criminal record and no history of domestic violence.

“He loved his wife,” Funke-Bilu said. “He’s a good man and what happened is a tragic, tragic thing. … He continues to be in a state of shock.”