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Subject: Georgia Beauty Queen Goes on Trial

Associated Press
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Date Posted: 03/ 6/05 3:21:55pm

3/6/2005 11:22:25 AM
SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) -- A beauty queen shoots and kills her two-timing boyfriend in a confrontation outside the other woman's home -- it's a story of soap-opera drama with a key question unresolved.

Did Miss Savannah Sharron Nicole Redmond fire in a jealous rage or in self defense?

A jury will be asked to determine the answer. Jury selection is set to start Monday in the murder trial of Redmond, 23, who has admitted firing the shot that killed boyfriend Kevin Shorter on Dec. 16, 2003. Her attorney says Redmond pulled the gun because she was threatened.

Finding an impartial jury could prove impossible in this coastal Georgia city. Redmond's story lept from front pages of the Savannah Morning News to national news wires, Internet blogs, Web sites, and CNN's scrolling tickers.

"Because of all the media attention, we may not be able to get a jury picked," Superior Court Judge Michael Karpf warned at a hearing last week.

In that case, the trial would be postponed and moved to another city.

Before the shooting, 2003 had been a year of success for Redmond, who grew up in a middle-class neighborhood on Savannah's west side.

She had graduated summa cum laude from Spellman College, a historically black women's school in Atlanta, earning her degree in an impressive three years. She returned to Savannah to work as a high school teacher.

Redmond also finished runner-up in the 2003 Miss Savannah pageant. Winner Andrea Bailey passed the crown to Redmond in August after winning the Miss Georgia pageant, a preliminary to the Miss America pageant.

Four months later, Redmond was charged with murder, posting a $25,000 bond to stay out of jail. She faces an automatic life sentence, if convicted.

Shorter, 25, had returned to Savannah to pursue a career as a music producer, after playing football at the City College of San Francisco. He had dated Redmond since she was in high school and had given her an engagement ring.

But Shorter also had given a ring to Rachel Hall.

"We were supposed to get married in July this year," Hall, 24, testified at a preliminary hearing in February 2004.

Hall said Redmond learned in 2003 that she was also dating Shorter. On Dec. 16, Hall was at home when Shorter called with a warning.

"He just called to tell me not to open the door, because Nikki is coming over. He said she was gonna kill me, then him," Hall testified, using Redmond's nickname.

Hall said she didn't take the warning too seriously, noting Shorter had lied to her before. Soon after, Redmond pulled her car into the driveway and the two women began to talk on the porch.

Redmond introduced herself: "I'm Nikki, and you know about me and Kevin. It's time for you to know about us, we were dating."

Then Shorter arrived, furious at Redmond. Hall testified that Shorter shouted at Redmond: "I don't want to be with you. I'm with Rachel."

Hall testified that Redmond then returned to her car and pulled out a pistol, a .40-caliber semiautomatic, before saying, "What, nigger, what?" as she cocked the handgun and walked toward Shorter.

Redmond told police she only drew a gun after Shorter advanced to hit her. Hall denied that Shorter threatened anyone, but said she tried to stop Redmond from shooting.

"I put my arm over hers and said, `Nikki, don't lose your life over Kevin. He's not worth it,'" Hall said.

According to Hall, Redmond got into her car and began backing out of the driveway, while Shorter walked to his own car. Hall said she went back inside the house, then heard a gun shot.

Redmond fired from her car window and drove away. The bullet scraped Shorter's car, struck him in the right buttock and passed through his upper thigh, piercing his femoral artery.

"She said she didn't point it, aim it at him ... and she stated she didn't think she shot him," police Detective Frank Chisholm testified at the same hearing. "She stated that she shot the gun because she thought Mr. Shorter was reaching into the car for his gun."

Redmond told police Shorter kept a gun in his car. However, the only firearm that investigators found was Redmond's - miles from the shooting scene by the front steps of her cousin's house.

Shorter died three days after the shooting.

Assistant District Attorney Ann Elmore and Redmond's defense attorney, Michael Schiavone, both have declined to comment on the case. A judge imposed a gag order on witnesses two weeks after the shooting.

Immediately after the shooting, Schiavone launched an aggressive and public defense of Redmond. He said she had a permit for the gun and carried it because another man, a convicted killer, had been stalking her.

Schiavone also said Redmond felt threatened by Shorter when he confronted her that night.

"She was placed in the position where he physically and aggressively came at her," Schiavone told The Associated Press on Dec. 18. "And she felt compelled to defend herself."

The Miss Savannah pageant never revoked Redmond's crown, at least not publicly. Citing negative publicity surrounding the shooting, organizers canceled the pageant last year.

This year, the pageant is advertising a new title - Miss First City, a reference to Savannah as Georgia's founding settlement. Organizers declined to discuss the change, but said they won't crown a Miss Savannah in 2005.

"No, we're not," said David Whidden, the pageant's co-director. "We are not having a Miss Savannah pageant this year."

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