Woman accused of killing boyfriend makes first court appearance

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YORK COUNTY, S.C.,None - On Tuesday, Christina Adams was led into court in shackles wearing bright orange prison clothes.  She's been in jail since her boyfriend, attorney Michael Howe, was killed on Oct. 10.

York police detectives laid out the details of their investigation in a preliminary hearing. 

Lt. Rich Caddell said Adams, 27, confessed to the shooting to the officer who arrived first on the scene.

"Sgt. Cotton asked Christina Adams who shot him.  Christina replied, ‘I did,’" Caddell said, reading from a statement in court.

Howe, 44, was shot several times in the bathroom of his home with a .45-caliber pistol.  Police said they found Adams outside the home when they arrived, and also found the murder weapon nearby in a side yard.

Public defender Casey Cornwell asked that the case go forward on a manslaughter charge and not murder.  He asked police questions about the large number of guns in the home. Police found more than 50.  Some were scattered in rooms throughout the house.  Howe also had two stuck to the headboard of his bed with Velcro.

"There were guns all over the place. Everywhere in that house," Cornwell said.  "If someone was angry and wanted a gun, they wouldn't have to reach very far."

Police also testified that they found at least three bullet holes in the house from previous shooting incidents.

Cornwell said the abundance of guns makes it more likely the shooting happened in the heat of the moment, without malice or forethought.

He also pointed out the argument that night between Howe and Adams that turned physical. 

"There are indications that there was some kind of fighting going on.  She had bruises on her," he said.

Caddell said he noticed bruises on Adams' arms and legs on the night of the shooting, but they didn't appear to be from that night.

Police had been called to the home on Smith Street for domestic abuse before.  Howe had a pending domestic violence charge from 2009 that involved Adams.

Prosecutors, however, said the shooting was no crime of passion. 

"She called a friend and told him what she was going to do," said 16th Circuit Solicitor Kevin Brackett.  “There was nothing going on right at that moment when this happened. There was plenty of time to cool off."

Daniel Martin, a friend of the couple, had been over for dinner earlier that night.  Martin had gone home, but came back when Adams called him, upset. According to police reports, Adams told him, "He hit me and I shot him."

However, Adams had not shot Howe yet during that phone call.  She waited until Martin got to the house.  Martin grabbed Adams' 9-year-old daughter, brought her outside and put her in his car.

He told police he went into the house and tried to stop Adams, but she walked past him in a hallway and shot Howe through the open door into the bathroom.  Martin said he ran outside screaming and drove to the York Police Department with Adams' daughter in his car.

Family members of both the victim and the defendant were in court Tuesday, though neither of them spoke to reporters before leaving the courthouse.

The judge found probable cause for the murder case against Adams to go forward.

She is expected in court again on Monday for a bond hearing. Her trial date has not been set.