Originally created 10/31/03

Medical examiner: First shotgun blast left Lane unconscious

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A tearful Deidra Lane left the courtroom twice Wednesday, avoiding graphic testimony about her shooting of her late husband, NFL running back Fred Lane.

Prosecutors concluded their case in the sentencing hearing for Deidra Lane, 28, who pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in August.

Lawyers for Lane, who faces a sentence of up to eight years, presented their first witness, an obstetrician who said Lane told her three weeks before the shooting that she had been physically and verbally abused by her husband.

Deidra Lane spent most of the day slumped in her chair at the defense table, eyes cast downward and frequently crying. She first left the courtroom during morning testimony by Mecklenburg County's medical examiner, Dr. Michael Sullivan, about his autopsy of Fred Lane.

Lane left again just before a police department firearms expert showed the heavily bloodstained yellow shirt Fred Lane was wearing when he was killed on July 6, 2000.

In both cases, Superior Court Judge Timothy Patti allowed Lane to leave after reminding her that she was waiving her constitutional right to be present.

Both the firearms expert, Bill McBrayer, and Sullivan testified that they concluded Fred Lane was shot from distances of 8 feet or less.

Sullivan said that the first shot fired at Fred Lane, which struck him in the chest and ripped apart his heart, "would cause a loss of consciousness very rapidly, within seconds, certainly less than a minute."

Deidra Lane told police investigators her husband was still moving after she fired the first shot and that she fired a second time because she "(thought) he was going to get up and come back at me."

The prosecution concluded its case by showing Patti photographs of the crime scene and a videotaped re-enactment of the shooting as it was described by Deidra Lane to police investigators.

The tape, made two months after the shooting, featured police detectives playing the roles of Fred and Deidra Lane.

Among other things, the tape showed Deidra Lane would have had to be standing almost directly over her husband's prone body to have fired the second shot from 3 feet away, as Sullivan concluded. That could raise doubt about her claim that Fred Lane still threatened her when she shot him in the back of the head.

Fred Lane, who played for the Carolina Panthers and was traded to Indianapolis shortly before his death, was shot as he entered his south Charlotte home. His body was found face down in a pool of blood in the entryway.

Prosecutors believe Deidra Lane, who had given birth to a daughter one week earlier, shot Fred Lane as he walked through the door, then walked through a pool of his blood to shoot him a second time.

Defense lawyers say Fred Lane entered the house in a rage and that Deidra Lane killed him in self-defense.

Dr. Devon Delaney, who was Deidra Lane's obstetrician, testified that Lane told her at a June 14, 2000, office visit that Fred Lane had physically and verbally abused her. On June 28, Delaney said, Lane asked to have her pregnancy induced so that she could give birth before Fred Lane returned to Charlotte from an out-of-town trip.

The baby was born the following day.

Defense documents filed in the case have argued that Fred Lane's abuse of his wife grew more frequent and severe in the weeks before his death. Fred Lane is alleged to have pushed Deidra Lane out of a car as he accelerated away and to have grabbed her by the throat, lifted her off the ground and thrown her into a sink.

Under cross-examination, Delaney acknowledged that she never saw bruises or other physical signs of abuse or injury on Lane beyond a cut lip that Lane told her was an accident.

The hearing is expected to last more than a week, unusual for a sentencing. But no evidence was put on before Deidra Lane entered her guilty plea, and the agreement leaves sentencing up to Patti.


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