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Trooper says Pa. man shot wife from behind

March 11, 2003|by STACEY DANZUSO

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

A Guilford Township, Pa., man charged in the shooting death of his estranged wife last November must have been standing above and behind her when she was shot based on her injuries, a Pennsylvania State Police trooper testified Monday.

Bruce Forsythe Sr. is charged with one count of murder and one count of aggravated assault in the death of Joanna Plummer, 33, who was found shot to death outside their home Nov. 24, according to court records.

"We believe based on the location of the injuries, (Plummer) was in a kneeling or other position and that Mr. Forsythe was standing above and behind her," Trooper G.M. Goodyear said.

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After hearing testimony from two Pennsylvania State Police troopers and the Franklin County coroner Monday, District Justice Shirley Shatzer determined there was enough evidence to continue the case against Forsythe, who has been held without bail in the Franklin County Prison since the shooting.

Coroner Jeffrey R. Conner said during Monday's preliminary hearing that autopsy results revealed Plummer was shot in the head and chest.

No one witnessed the shooting, Goodyear said.

Plummer had taken out a Protection From Abuse Order against her husband less than two weeks before her death, according to court records.

The order barred Forsythe, 53, from having contact with Plummer.

Plummer had not been living at the residence at 6283 Molly Pitcher Highway South. The couple had been married for about five years but at some point she moved out and began using her maiden name, family previously said.

More than a dozen family members and friends of Plummer were in the hearing room Monday afternoon, many wearing buttons with her photo pinned to their chests.

Family members, many of whom live in the Hagerstown area, had no comment on the proceeding.

Goodyear said the 911 center called state police at 2:46 p.m. on Nov. 24, 2002 to report a shooting.

"At that time they simply told us a man called in claiming he had shot his wife," he said.

Officers responded to the residence where they found Forsythe outside, Plummer unresponsive on the ground and a .22-caliber revolver on the hood of a nearby Ford Bronco, Goodyear said.

He said Forsythe told him during a statement at the station a few hours after the shooting that he and Plummer had made contact two days earlier and that she was to come to the residence to talk about their relationship.

An argument about her relationship with another man turned physical in the front yard, he said.

"He said he went inside and got a gun from the TV stand. He said he couldn't remember how many times he shot her," Goodyear said.

He also testified that Forsythe asked to die.

"He asked me several times if I would just shoot him," Goodyear said.

Trooper Joseph Davidson, lead investigator in the case, said police removed from between five and 10 firearms from the home, some of which are believed to have been owned by Plummer.

Defense attorney David Keller did not call any witnesses.

Forsythe, wearing an orange Franklin County Prison jumpsuit, did not address the court.

He was scheduled for arraignment at 1 p.m. April 23 in Franklin County Court.

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