Originally created 08/24/04

Brother heard final breath



Last December, Harold Brooks and his wife, Ruth Ann, were busy helping their only daughter make wedding plans.

On Monday, the Fredericksburg, Va., residents were making funeral arrangements for Elizabeth Ann Paslay, 21, who was shot to death in the kitchen of a home she shared with her husband, Todd Russell Paslay, 27.

Mr. Paslay, who is charged in his wife's death, remains in the Richmond County jail. Richmond County sheriff's deputies arrested him Friday night, after the shooting, which happened at the couple's Hiwatha Drive residence in south Augusta, near Tobacco and Boykin roads.

The victim's brother, Harold Brooks III, also of Fredericksburg, said he was talking to his sister on the telephone moments before a single gunshot ended her life.

"The phone ring once and I told my father, 'That's Elizabeth.' I called back and heard Todd hollering and screaming. She told him, 'Get off me.'"

After another hang-up, the younger Mr. Brooks called his sister a final time. She picked up the phone but didn't respond, he said.

"I heard her gurgling, gasping for air. She was fighting for her life. I heard my sister take her last breath," the distraught 18-year-old said. He said they shared a close bond.

Mr. Paslay is charged with malice murder, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime and two counts of cruelty to children, police said.

The case will probably go before the grand jury in the next two weeks, District Attorney Danny Craig said Monday.

"It's unlikely that bond would be granted considering that judges seldom grant bond for murder cases," he said.

The older Mr. Brooks, 64, said his daughter and Mr. Paslay's daughters, Haley, 4, and Alexis, 2, had been in Virginia for two weeks and returned to Augusta just three days before the shooting occurred.

He said his daughter had threatened to leave Mr. Paslay because she no longer felt comfortable living with him.

"She was planning to move back to Virginia and start all over again," Mr. Brooks said.

"Oh my God, she was a great girl. I taught her how to fish, cook, hunt and protect herself." Mr. Brooks described his son-in-law as a hard-working radiologist and a seemingly devoted father and husband. "It's just hard to figure how this could have happened. Why?"

Reach Timothy Cox at (706) 823-3217 or tim.cox@augustachronicle.com.



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