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Police: Woman tried to shoot husband behind judge’s office

September 8, 2011

State troopers John Young (left) and Julie Clark (right) escort Judy Lee Sprankle, 60, Reynoldsville, to her arraignment Thursday afternoon at the office of District Judge Douglas Chambers, just hours after Sprankle allegedly fired shots at her husband and his girlfriend prior to a hearing the three were supposed to attend before Chambers at the same location. (Photo by Tom Chapin/The Punxsutawney Spirit)

PUNXSUTAWNEY — A Reynoldsville woman faces two counts of attempted criminal homicide and other charges after she allegedly fired about six shots from a .22 caliber revolver at her husband behind a district judge’s office Thursday.

One of the shots struck her husband’s car, while another struck a private residence along Pleasant Alley, police said.

Punxsy-based Pennsylvania State Police said Judy L. Sprankle, 60, Summit Road, Reynoldsville, was arraigned by District Judge Douglas Chambers — behind whose office the incident occurred — Thursday afternoon. He set Sprankle’s bail at $1 million, and she was committed to the Jefferson County jail.

In a criminal complaint, police said around 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Elmer Aaron Sprankle and his girlfriend, Alicia A. Caltagarone, pulled into a parking spot along South Penn Street for a 9 a.m. hearing before Chambers.

When pulling in, Elmer Sprankle saw his wife on the porch in front of Chambers’ office. She then approached the car and said, “Hi honey, come on inside, I’m going to kill you.”

The complaint said Judy Sprankle then took a swing at Caltagarone through the passenger-side window, missing her. Elmer Sprankle then pulled the car back onto South Penn and turned left onto Pleasant Alley, behind Chambers’ office.

In his statement to police, Elmer Sprankle said he saw his wife go behind his vehicle and pull a handgun from her purse. The complaint said she dropped her purse and fired three to four shots at the vehicle, striking it once on the trunk lid.

Elmer Sprankle told police that after each shot, his wife lowered the gun, then brought it back up and fired again. He then fled down Pleasant Alley and turned right onto another alley.

Elmer Sprankle said he had told Caltagarone to call the police, and pulled his vehicle in front of Chambers’ office once he saw officers responding.

In her statement to police, Caltagarone said while she was on the phone with police, Sprankle fired three to four shots at the car, and was about 30 feet behind the car when she first shot at them. She also said she was ducking her head down in her seat and saw Sprankle firing in her rearview mirror.

Responding state troopers Cpl. Jeffery Lee and Robert Means then saw Sprankle carrying a handgun and walking toward South Penn Street behind Chambers’ office, the complaint said. When they ordered her to stop and drop the weapon, she complied, laid down on the ground and was taken into custody.

While Means was cuffing Sprankle, she said, according to the complaint, “Take it easy, it’s not you I’m going to hurt. It’s my husband I’m going to kill.”

While en route to the PSP-Punxsy barracks, Sprankle allegedly told investigating Trooper John Young, along with Trooper Richard Lorelli, “Don’t let me out of jail because I’ll kill him. You can write that down. He molested my daughter. I’ll kill him. I think they are safe now.”
The residence that one of the rounds struck was that of Donna Keslar, who told the police that she was home at the time of the shooting and heard a few shots, a delay, then a couple more shots, the complaint said. She then found a hole in the east wall, and troopers later located a spent bullet in the residence.

There were no injuries.

Chambers said all three parties were at his office for a 9 a.m. summary trial, in which Judy Sprankle faced charges of harassment and public drunkenness for threatening to kill Elmer Sprankle and another male stemming from a May 18 incident.

He said he didn’t think he heard the shots when he and his staff were in the office.

Punxsy Borough Police Chief Tom Fedigan said his officers also responded to the scene — across the street from the station — but that state police would handle the investigation.

“A case or incident like this is a very labor-intenstive and requires a lot of manpower, and we simply don’t have, at this time, the employees to effectively investigate an incident like this,” he said. “So I asked the state police to conduct the investigation, and they gladly complied.”

In addition to the attempted homicide charges, Sprankle faces two counts of aggravated assault; one count of discharge of a firearm into an occupied structure; three counts of simple assault; three counts of recklessly endangering another person; and two counts of criminal mischief.

 

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