RUTLAND, Vt. (AP) – A woman who allegedly shot her husband to death last weekend was charged Thursday with second-degree murder after she and her children acknowledged lying about the circumstances to make her less culpable, authorities said.

Wendy Pelkey-Grant, 42, who said she was protecting her family from him, pleaded not guilty and was ordered held on $150,000 bail.

She is accused of shooting Sean Grant, 36, three times with a .357 caliber pistol during a family fight on Saturday night.

Pelkey-Grant, and her two children – Alyssa Pelkey and Eric Hall – first told police that a drunken Grant went to get a gun from upstairs, then later put it down before she picked it up and used it to shoot him so she could protect the children.

But police say the family members’ stories had holes in them. In subsequent interviews, the children and then Pelkey-Grant admitted that she retrieved the gun from an upstairs bedroom, police said.

When asked why she needed a gun, she told police: “Because he don’t stop, he doesn’t stop, he pushes and he shoves and hits, I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know, I just don’t want this no more, I don’t want it no more, I was afraid for Eric,” according to a police affidavit released Thursday.

Pelkey-Grant, her children and her daughter’s boyfriend said that Grant was drunk and fighting with his two stepchildren. Hall said Grant had grabbed him around the neck but later said it was only for a minute and said the two had been wrestling.

When she came downstairs to try to stop the fight, she told police something “just went.” She said she thought she was aiming toward the fish tank and later admitted she pulled the trigger and shot Grant as he turned toward her, police said.

Hall said it was his idea to say that Grant had brought down the gun, police said.

Pelkey-Grant, who had sought a relief-from-abuse order against her husband in 2004, told police this week that Grant had physically abused her for years and she had recently started counseling and was taking medication to help deal with the stress of his drunkenness and arguments.

On Thursday, Deputy State’s Attorney Peter Neary argued for a higher bail of cash $250,000, and that she be barred from having contact with her children if released, based on the seriousness of the charge.

“This case is the ultimate in violence and threats of violence,” he said.

But Pelkey-Grant’s attorney, Matthew Harnett, said since she had no prior criminal record, cooperated with police, is unemployed and owns a home, she wasn’t a risk of flight.

“She was acting to protect family members,” he said.

Judge William Cohen acknowledged her lack of a criminal background and cooperation with police but said “based on the seriousness of offense, there is a risk of flight and cash bail is warranted.”

He set bail at $150,000, and barred her from discussing the details of the case with her children.

Grant’s sister, Jennifer Cavacas, said she was relieved that charges were filed. She said she never believed the shooting was self-defense.

“It just did not make sense,” she said. “He took care of those children.”

AP-ES-04-24-08 1929EDT


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