PASCO — A Pasco mother and daughter were arguing about the withdrawal of $300 from the older woman's bank account when she was fatally shot March 3, court documents reveal.
Tashia L. Stuart -- who claims she fired after her mother came at her with an ax -- had reportedly asked her father some "bizarre" questions in the weeks prior, including "what she should do if her mother started chasing her," documents said.
Stuart also repeatedly sought access to the combination of her mother's safe, saying she needed to get Judy Hebert's last will and testament and do-not-resuscitate paperwork, said Rolfe Hebert, the victim's ex-husband and suspect's father.
Meanwhile, Judy L. Hebert allegedly had told her former husband that she suspected her live-in daughter of giving her the wrong medications and scratching off the markings so she wouldn't know the difference.
Stuart, 37, is set to appear in Franklin County Superior Court today to enter a plea. She has been charged with first-degree murder with a firearm enhancement.
Prosecutors also allege aggravating circumstances of deliberate cruelty to the victim, domestic violence within the sight and sound of a child, an egregious lack of remorse by Stuart, and the destructive and foreseeable impact the offense had on persons other than the victim.
Stuart remains in the Franklin County jail on $200,000 bail. One of her lawyers, Matt Rutt, has said it might be a self-defense case.
Hebert was "shot more than once, less than five times," Franklin County Coroner Dan Blasdel said after the autopsy. She died from a single gunshot wound to the chest, he said.
Court documents also show that she had significant injury to her left hand, which could be from protecting herself.
Results of blood tests on Hebert won't be available for up to two months.
Hebert, retired and a Master Gardener for 30 years, moved to 7907 Salmon Drive in 2007. Her daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter moved to the Tri-Cities to live with Hebert in January, reportedly because of financial issues.
After Stuart's arrest March 3, Pasco detectives interviewed Stuart, her 7-year-old daughter and her father about events leading up to the shooting. Two separate search warrants filed in Superior Court give additional details about the case.
In mid-February, "a large bin of books" had fallen on top of Hebert's head. She was injured but refused to go to a hospital, Stuart told her father according to the court documents.
Rolfe Hebert, who remained good friends with his ex-wife and talked with her on the phone three to four times a week, told Detective Justin Greenhalgh he then followed up with Judy. She said "she was OK and just felt beat up, but that there was no blood loss or scrapes or cuts," Rolfe Hebert said in his interview.
He told Greenhalgh that his daughter had called him about two weeks before the incident to get the safe combination so she could access Judy Hebert's personal documents. When Rolfe Hebert asked why, Stuart allegedly cited her mother's recent health issues.
Rolfe Hebert refused, claiming he didn't know it. He said Stuart tried two more times, telling him "mom had told her everything in the safe was hers if she died," documents said.
Then a week before her death, Judy Hebert told her ex she thought their daughter was swapping her pills for her injuries since she was suddenly "feeling quite drowsy." She also believed her daughter had stolen her prescription pain medication, and told Rolfe Hebert she was keeping notes on what Tashia and son-in-law Todd Stuart were doing, and was keeping those notes in her safe, documents said.
Todd Stuart allegedly left three days before Hebert was killed, but Tashia Stuart claimed she had tracked him down through a store credit card and that they still were in contact.
Rolfe Hebert told Greenhalgh that his daughter called him around 11 a.m. March 3 inquiring what to do if her mother chased her. Hebert said he advised her to leave the house if they were fighting.
A 911 hang-up call was made from the Salmon Drive home at 2:24 p.m. When dispatchers called back, a person answered and said the call accidentally was made while they were changing the battery in a smoke detector.
Officer Kevin Erickson arrived at the home 10 minutes later and talked to Stuart, who "told him that everything was OK and she was sorry for the mistake." Erickson said he still needed to do a welfare check, so Stuart asked him to wait outside while she put her large dog in the backyard. That's when a neighbor told Erickson he had heard gunshots from inside the home.
After Stuart returned to the front door, Erickson said he needed to check things out. Stuart, whose young daughter was standing next to her, then told the officer that her mother "was coming after her with an ax and she shot her," court documents said.
Erickson "peered into the hallway and saw a body lying on the ground along with an ax and a pistol with the hammer cocked," documents said.
Stuart reportedly waived her Miranda rights before telling Officer Dean Perry that her hand hurt. Perry then looked at her hands and "could clearly see what appeared to be gunshot residue on her left hand," court documents said.
She later told Detective Brad Gregory she had been arguing with her mother about the money that had been taken from Judy Hebert's account without her consent. She said the cash was in her jacket, along with the debit card receipt.
Stuart's young daughter met with a child interviewer and said she had been told to go into the garage, then heard three shots fired. The girl said she came back in to find her "Nana" on the floor with a black gun and a case next to the woman. Those items normally were kept in Hebert's Toyota 4Runner, the girl said.
Police seized a .357-caliber gun from the living room, a hatchet from the master bedroom floor near where Hebert was found, bullet fragments around the house and three other firearms inside the opened safe, along with personal notes and numerous pill bottles.
Investigators also got a search warrant for fingernail clippings from Stuart to check for Hebert's DNA in case the two women physically fought, and a sample of her blood so the crime lab could "determine the level of her impairment, if any, due to the use of drugs and/or alcohol at the time of her involvement in the incident."
-- Kristin M. Kraemer: 509-582-1531; firstname.lastname@example.org