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Subject: Mother Charged in Shooting Death of 7-Year-Old Daughter

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Date Posted: April 14, 2003 10:53:00 EDT

A mother said she shot her 7-year-old daughter while the child slept because she could no longer cope with the girl's learning disability, police said.

Jennifer O'Connor told police she woke up the morning of April 4 and got a glass of water, then went to her room and loaded a rifle she had purchased in February.

She went to her daughter's room and shot the girl, Sara, once in the chest, according to the court papers. Sara woke up after she was shot and told her mother she was burning, according to police. O'Connor said she ran to get some towels, but waited 15 minutes before calling anyone.

Her first phone call was to the girl's father, the second to 911, according to police.

The girl was rushed to a hospital and died on April 7.

O'Connor initially told police a masked intruder had shot her daughter, according to an affidavit. She later called the shooting an accident, and said she had been "going through some hard times with her daughter regarding her behavior."

Prosecutor Michael Dearington would not elaborate on the motive for the shooting.

O'Connor was arrested Monday on a murder charge and was ordered held on $1 million bond.

Defense attorney William Dow said O'Connor is on medication.

"She's trying to cope with this tragedy," Dow said. "She's been under treatment a substantial period of time. She's had learning difficulties throughout her life and she's been trying to deal with that."

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