PASCO — A 37-year-old Pasco woman accused of shooting her mother in the chest this past week has been formally charged with first-degree murder with aggravating circumstances.
Franklin County Prosecutor Shawn Sant filed the murder charge against Tashia Stuart on Tuesday, alleging the shooting of Judy Hebert, 58, last Thursday was premeditated.
The charge does not carry the potential for the death penalty.
Sant added an enhancement to the charge, saying Stuart was armed with a firearm. That means that if she is convicted, Stuart would face a mandatory sentence for the firearm on top of the standard range sentence.
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Sant also filed multiple aggravating factors to the charge, which allows him to seek a sentence beyond the standard range if Stuart is convicted.
"An exceptional sentence gives us the ability to seek a lifetime (sentence) without the possibility of parole," Sant said.
The aggravating factors alleged are:
-- The crime involved deliberate cruelty to the victim;
-- It was an act of domestic violence that occurred within the sight and sound of a child;
-- Stuart demonstrated or displayed an egregious lack of remorse;
-- The offense involved a destructive and foreseeable impact on persons other than the victim.
"At this point, we feel this is the appropriate charge, given the current investigation," Sant said.
Stuart, who had been living in her mother's west Pasco home since January, is expected to enter a plea to the charge Tuesday.
After a brief appearance Friday where she was ordered held on $200,000 bail for investigation of second-degree murder, her defense attorney said the shooting might be a self-defense case.
In her interview with police, Stuart claimed her mother came at her with an ax, court documents said.
The shooting occurred around 2:30 p.m. in Hebert's home at 7907 Salmon Drive. Pasco police said there apparently was a commotion, then shots were fired.
Sant said Tuesday that it was too soon to discuss a motive for the shooting because the investigation still was ongoing.
Pasco police Capt. Jim Raymond said detectives initially spent at least 24 hours straight processing the scene and investigating the shooting.
Multiple investigators continue to work on the case and have been working it since the shooting, he said.
Stuart's 7-year-old daughter, who was home at the time and witnessed the shooting, was taken into protective custody after the shooting.
She has since been released to another family member, Sant said.
Stuart, her daughter and her husband of five years, Todd, apparently moved in with Hebert at the beginning of the year because of financial issues, Rutt previously said.
Todd Stuart was not home when the shooting occurred.
According to court records, dispatchers received a 911 hang-up call from the home and when an emergency dispatcher called back, a person who answered the phone said they had just been changing the smoke detector battery.
An officer who was sent to check on the hang-up call said Stuart appeared distraught when she answered the door, but told him there was no problem inside.
She then closed the door, leaving the officer outside, after telling him she needed to put her dog away so it wouldn't bite him.
A neighbor then contacted the officer and reported hearing gunshots from the house and said that when he tried to call the home he initially didn't get an answer.
The neighbor said someone named "Natasha" answered on the second call, told him something on the stove had "blown up" and said "mom" would call him back in a few minutes, documents said.
When the officer returned to the house and knocked on the door again, Stuart came to the door and said, "She came at me with an ax," documents said.
Hebert was found dead on the floor in the hallway.