Originally created 02/15/99

Man charged in roommate's death



An Aiken County man who was trying to break up a fight between his roommates shot one of them in the buttocks and faces a manslaughter charge after the victim died Sunday, authorities said.

James Howard McMenamin, 20, of the 100 block of Morning Glow Lane, told sheriff's officials he was trying to stop roommate Peter Gunn from hitting Teresa Riddlesperter, sheriff's Lt. Michael Frank said Sunday.

Mr. McMenamin told deputies the fight awoke him about 1 a.m. Friday and he saw Mr. Gunn assault the woman.

"Unable to break up the fight, James McMenamin shot Gunn in the back side with a rifle," Lt. Frank said.

Mr. Gunn, 28, died at 10:10 a.m. Sunday at Aiken Regional Medical Centers. Ms. Riddlesperter, 28, who also lived at the Morning Glow Lane address, was taken to the hospital and was released by Sunday night.

Mr. McMenamin was originally charged with assault and battery, but the charge was upgraded when his roommate died, Lt. Frank said. Mr. McMenamin was jailed without bond Sunday at the Aiken County Detention Center.

The shooting took place in a two-bedroom manufactured home along a dirt road in a secluded area off Chime Bell Church Road.

On Sunday night, yellow crime scene tape hung across the mobile home's wooden deck entrance and a hound and a terrier ran loose outdoors.

The three roommates lived there for a few weeks, neighbor Johnny Pridgen said Sunday.

Mr. Gunn told the neighbor in a recent conversation that Ms. Riddlesperter was his girlfriend and the dogs were his, Mr. Pridgen said.

Mr. Pridgen said he didn't hear the shooting next door, but he saw the sheriff's cars afterward.

"Sure, it's shocking," he said. "You're not prepared for something like this to happen."

Greg Rickabaugh can be reached at (803) 279-6895 or scbureau@augustachronicle.com.