Kevin Ewing was supposed to be under house arrest on Tuesday, after he was charged last month with holding his wife hostage for two weeks, brutalizing her and threatening to kill her.
Instead, the 47-year-old Pennsylvania man apparently managed to remove his electronic monitoring bracelet before abducting his wife early on Tuesday morning. By that night, state police had found her shot dead inside a barn and Ewing gravely injured from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Ewing’s defense attorney, Ben Goodwin, said in an interview that his client’s chances of survival were “grim.”
“The best information I have is that he’s currently brain dead,” the attorney said. “It’s a tragedy all the way around.”
Ewing had held his wife, Tierne, hostage from June 26 to July 8, according to authorities. Prosecutors accused him of holding a gun to her head, binding her hands, pistol-whipping her, hitting her with a hammer and threatening to kill her and himself.
Ewing was released on a $100,000 bond on July 11, prompting prosecutors to ask a judge to raise his bond.
Court of Common Pleas Judge Gary Gilman did not increase the amount but ordered Ewing confined to his home with an electronic ankle tracking bracelet.
Local media reported that he cut off the bracelet. It was unclear why its removal did not trigger any warning to authorities.
A woman who answered the phone at Probation Services at the Washington County courthouse declined to comment. Patrick Grimm, a court administrator who supervises the probation department, also declined to comment.
Ewing had a history of domestic violence against his wife, according to court records and filings from prosecutors.
Goodwin, Ewing’s lawyer, said Tierne Ewing had refused to testify at her husband’s preliminary hearing and had requested that a temporary restraining order be lifted, which a judge denied.
Assistant District Attorney Kristin Clingerman said in an interview that her office had been prepared to proceed to trial even if Tierne Ewing opted not to testify, citing the extent of her physical injuries and her initial report to investigators.
Tierne Ewing’s father, Richard Kopko, told the Pittsburgh CBS affiliate that the court system was to blame for his daughter’s death.
“Oh, big deal, they put a bracelet on him and she’s six miles (10 km) away,” he told the television station. “Come on, give me a break.”
Judge Gilman on Wednesday declined to comment through a court employee.
(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Scott Malone and Steve Orlofsky)