Lafayette man arrested on murder charge in wife’s fatal shooting claims self-defense


Patrick Elliott

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UPDATE (Sept. 26, 2019) — Patrick Elliott was sentenced to 75 years in the Department of Correction after being found guilty.

LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Tippecanoe County sheriff’s deputies arrested a husband on murder charges after he shot and killed his wife, but the man claims he did it in self-defense.

In the early morning hours of Aug. 8, deputies responded to a home on County Road 500 South, where they found 47-year-old Donita Elliott dead from a single gunshot wound. Her husband, 50-year-old Patrick Elliott, admitted he fired the shot and told police it was self-defense.

Detectives conducted a follow-up interview on Monday and arrested Patrick Elliott on a murder charge. Investigators said they’d found evidence that appeared to contradict Elliott’s self-defense claim, though they didn’t specify what that evidence was.

According to the Journal & Courier, Elliott’s arrest came one day after he sent a letter to his church congregation about the incident. In the letter, Elliott wrote that his wife suffered from mental illness.

According to his letter, his wife left home in a rage and returned a few hours later. He wrote that she left him in a “life or death” situation.

“I chose life,” he wrote, “and unfortunately, my choice included her death. I will wear that burden and guilt forever, even though I know God knows my heart, and that I am already forgiven.”

Elliott said Donita experienced “breaks with reality” and her latest such episode happened in the days before the shooting. He contacted the authorities and two mental health agencies, he wrote, but was “left to go it alone ‘until something really bad happens.’”

Elliott said his wife was bipolar and “never meant to hurt anyone.” Police had been called to the home on Monday night in response to a domestic disturbance. They returned hours later to find Donita Elliott had been shot. She later died during surgery.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the Tippecanoe County Sheriff’s Office at 765-423-9321 or the We-Tip Hotline at 1-800-78 Crime.

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