San Miguel man will be tried in shooting death of wife

The San Miguel man accused of involuntary manslaughter in the accidental shooting death of his wife was held to answer to charges after a San Luis Obispo Superior Court ruling on Friday.

John Aaron Norris, 25, was ordered to face trial in the shooting of his wife, 24-year-old Tasha Dawn Norris, on July 9 at the couple’s 11th Street home.

Judge Michael Duffy ruled that Deputy District Attorney Matt Kerrigan presented enough evidence to put Norris on trial.

Norris is scheduled to appear on Dec. 8 for an arraignment on charges of involuntary manslaughter and possession of an illegal weapon.

He pleaded not guilty to the same charges in the initial phase of the case.

Norris’ attorney, Ilan Funke-Bilu, said outside court that he didn’t think charges should have been brought by the District Attorney’s Office, adding that he thinks prosecutors felt pressure to pursue the case because a firearm was involved.

“He’s a good man, a good father, it was a tragic accident and it’s a terrible thing,” Funke-Bilu said. “It’s unfortunate, and I don’t think this matter should have been prosecuted.”

But Kerrigan said that “the accident was committed with criminal negligence.”

Kerrigan said that Norris should have checked to see if the .45 caliber handgun he was handling was loaded and taken proper safety measures to prevent it from firing and hitting his wife.

Norris told investigators that he tripped over children’s toys and a dog beneath his feet, leading to the gun firing inadvertently and hitting his wife in the upper chest. She was seated about six to eight feet away.

Gary Walter, the medical examiner, determined the cause of Tasha Norris’ death was a loss of blood because of a single gunshot wound that penetrated her lung and exited her upper back.

Norris applied pressure to the wound to try to save her — repeatedly saying “keep breathing babe, keep breathing babe, keep breathing babe,” sheriff’s Detective Mike Wasley said during questioning from Funke-Bilu.

The Norris’ two young children weren’t home at the time of the incident.

The county Department of Social Services is now supervising the children’s care, department Director Lee Collins said.

District Attorney’s Office investigator Scott Odom said that an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle found by investigators in the home after the shooting was illegal.

Odom acknowledged those in the military may possess the firearm if it’s registered in California.

Norris is on active duty in the U.S. Army, Funke-Bilu said. John and Tasha Norris served in Iraq and were discharged in 2007, Norris told investigators.

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