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Wife Freed Cleared In Shooting Prompted By Attack On Her and Spaniel

July 23, 1988

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) _ No charges will be filed against a woman who killed her husband after he threatened to shoot the couple’s cocker spaniel and started beating her when she protested, police said.

According to police, Ralph Hess Jr. said he was fed up with the family’s ″useless″ cocker spaniel and asked his wife, Katherine Elaine Hess, ″Where’s the gun?″ She refused to get it for him and Hess turned on her.

″He then physically attacked her and knocked her to the floor, kicking her and digging his fingernails into her arm as he was kicking her,″ said George Pinckney, a police spokesman said.

During the struggle late Thursday in a motel room, Mrs. Hess reached under a nightstand, grabbed a small-caliber handgun and shot her husband in the shoulder. Hess, 35, died a short time later, police said.

On Friday, the Pasco-Pinellas State Attorney’s Office ruled that Mrs. Hess acted in self-defense, said William Doniel, another police spokesman.

Pinckney said police closed the investigation and released Mrs. Hess, 34.

Police said the couple had come to Florida from Tennessee four days before the shooting to open a business with another couple, whom police would not identify.

Motel manager Bob Carpenter said the Hesses were not guests at the motel, but were visiting another couple who were staying there.

″After the shooting, I saw a cream-colored cocker spaniel running around,″ he said.

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