The first time accused killer John St. Angelo tried to shoot himself, he missed, he testified Wednesday.
“I was in the bathtub,” St. Angelo told the jury. “I got on my knees and put the rifle on my chin and pulled the trigger. Then I saw I was still alive. So I aimed it at the side of my face and pulled the trigger again, and it blew out one of my teeth.
“I could feel the blood in my mouth as I staggered to the front door.”
The day before, St. Angelo, 50, had killed his former wife, Suzanne Parsons, 49, in her north Fort Worth real estate office. The Tarrant County medical examiner’s office reported that Parsons was stabbed 23 times and her throat was slit.
Her ex-husband was identified by her co-workers, and police looked for him until about 11 a.m. the next day, Dec. 31, 2013. A woman called 911 to say St. Angelo had broken into her house the previous night and kept her hostage for about 12 hours.
St. Angelo held off officers for more than five hours. During the standoff, St. Angelo fired at SWAT officers but did not hit anyone. He also talked to a police hostage negotiator.
After shooting himself, “I was pretty much knocked out,” St. Angelo said. “I shattered my jaw. It split my jaw in half. I have permanent nerve damage and bullets fragments that are so close to my eyeball they won’t remove them.”
St. Angelo told the jury that Parsons had come at him with what witnesses described as an 11-inch kitchen knife with a 6-inch blade.
Initially, St. Angelo said, it looked as though Parsons was trying to commit suicide.
“I don’t think she even realized she was doing it,” said St. Angelo, his body convulsed by sobs. “I said, ‘What are you doing?’ That’s when I tried to grab it away from her, and she turned it toward me and started pushing the knife toward me.”
Parsons cut him with the knife and dislocated his finger during their struggle before he wrested the knife away and plunged it into her three times, St. Angelo testified.
“I started hollering for her to stop,” he said. “I didn’t want her to be hurt. I was just trying to be there for her, to help her, love her. I hate what happened.”
Prosecutor Allenna Bangs pointed out that on Tuesday the jury heard a recording of St. Angelo talking to the hostage negotiator and saying he stabbed Parsons 15 times.
St. Angelo testified that he did not remember that part of the conversation. At one point during the recording, St. Angelo’s voice became muffled and often unintelligible. St. Angelo suggested that might have been caused by the large amount of methamphetamine he had ingested.
Bangs reminded St. Angelo that Parsons’ DNA, but not his, was found on the knife blade, which would be unlikely if the knife cut him as he described.
“And you can agree with me, can’t you, that you can’t start a fight and claim that you were defending yourself?” Bangs asked.
St. Angelo said he did not remember stabbing Parsons more than three times and said that he was in a daze that day.
“And you would agree with me that what you did to Suzanne was more than what was needed to defend yourself in that situation?” Bangs asked.
“I don’t know,” St. Angelo said. And then he made noises that sounded like a man crying.
The maximum sentence on the murder charge is 99 years in prison. St. Angelo is also charged with attempted murder and aggravated kidnapping.
The trial is scheduled to continue Thursday in state District Judge George Gallagher’s court.
Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752