(Delmarvanow.com) -- Murder charges were dismissed Friday against a New Church man in the shooting death of his stepson earlier this year.
JoAnn Young, wife of defendant Lonnie Medlin, and mother of victim Patrick "Pat" Wescott, 44, was called to the witness stand by Commonwealth’s Attorney Spencer Morgan. After hearing a testimony from Young and a police investigator, the judge made his ruling on Aug. 11.
“I cannot think of a theory that would say this was not a justified shooting,” opined Juvenile and Domestic Relations Judge Croxton Gordon. “He was in a rage, he was physically violent, he threw the bottle of Powerade. Medlin came out of the bedroom with a gun. Wescott was charging Ms. Young, swinging his fists. One blow could have injured her. I dismiss both charges.”
Medlin had been charged with second-degree murder and use of a firearm.
Wescott had a history of drug use, crimes and incarcerations In Virginia, and more recently in Florida, where he got into trouble after absconding in violation of his probation hearing.
Young tearfully testified in Accomack General District Court about the events of the early morning of April 1 that resulted in her son shot dead and her husband charged in his murder. Young said her son and his girlfriend were living in her home at the time.
She said Medlin, 67, was the first to awake that morning. It was before 5 a.m., and he went outside to smoke a cigarette.
A short time later, he came back to bed and told Young that he saw Wescott's girlfriend in the living room, appearing to have passed out on a loveseat with a lit cigarette.
Medlin said he pulled on her arm and shook her shoulder, in an attempt to wake her as the cigarette burned the loveseat. Medlin told his wife he called the woman "crazy" and said, "You are burning up my loveseat."
Wescott barged into their bedroom and grabbed Medlin, shaking him, Young said. “He was screaming that Lonnie had no right to put his hands on anyone.”
In the living room, Young then found her son cursing and violently ripping the love seat to pieces.
“I was doing everything I could to get him to stop,” she said.
Wescott did not stop.
Young testified that Wescott raised his voice at her and said, “You picked him over me again!”
Wescott then went back into the bedroom a second time and again grabbed Medlin, shaking him violently, causing him to hit his head on the headboard.
“I have never seen my son in that much rage. I knew something terrible was going to happen,” Young said, crying.
She said Wescott returned to the living room and the shouting continued.
“He was bound and determined to hurt someone that morning,” she said.
Young repeated what she called, “his very ugly language.”
"I will kill both of you," Young said, repeating her son. "You can call police, but I’ll kill both of you before the police get here."
She said her son picked up an unopened bottle of Powerade and threw it at her. It missed her, hit the wall and burst open, she told the court.
“I didn’t know Lonnie was behind me," she said.
Young said her son was coming toward her yelling threats. She looked down and said she saw the barrel of a gun near her thigh, heard a shot and saw her son clutch his side.
“He staggered backwards and fell to the floor,” she said.
She described the entire altercation as occurring “in a split second.”
Young said her son’s girlfriend came into the room and performed CPR. Medlin checked his stepson and found no pulse.
“He’s gone,” Medlin told them, according to Young's testimony.
Medlin dialed 9-1-1 and handed Young the phone.
Medlin went to his bedroom, laid the gun on the bed and changed his clothes, according to Young's testimony. He unloaded the gun, took it onto the deck, put it on a table and sat on the steps to wait for the police to arrive.
When defense attorney Carl Bundick questioned Young about her son, she said he had been released from the Eastern Shore regional jail about six weeks earlier.
He had a construction job in Ocean City that she drove him to because he had no driver's license, Young said.
Despite Wescott's long history of drug abuse, he seemed clean until two weeks before his death, when Young began to suspect that he was again using drugs, she testified.
His drug use was verified when Young said Wescott recently showed her his arm, saying, “I really messed up. I tried to shoot up and missed the vein.”
“He was reverting back to his old self. He was like he was when he was using drugs,” she said. “The more he took, the meaner he got.”
She told the court she feared that he would kill or seriously hurt her and her husband.
“I’ve never seen my son like that before," she said. "He was like a mad man.”
"This is a circumstance that is clearly defense of self and defense of others,” said the defense attorney. “On two occasions, Medlin was physically assaulted and manhandled."
Wescott's threats to kill the couple and his drug use heightened their fear.
"They were anticipating serious bodily harm,” Bundick said.