‘I shot ‘em’Eyewitness testifies seeing Sharon Gerot’s death
Testimony in the trial of Thomas Lee Hansen began Tuesday afternoon with prosecution witness Todd Hahn, who was driving by Hansen’s residence when Sharon Kay Gerot was fatally shot. Hansen, 72, is charged with murdering Gerot, 54, in the first degree.
Hansen and Gerot were living together at 1355 Deer Run Drive south of Riverside at the time of Gerot’s death on May 1, 2011. Hahn lives in that same subdivision and was headed home on the afternoon of May 1, 2011 when he saw something startling out of the corner of his eye.
Hahn testified that as he was driving west on 135th Street near Hansen’s residence, he saw someone on a riding lawn mower. He saw the person’s head snap back and their arms go in the air. Hahn pulled over and ran to the scene, hopping over a fence along the way. He could see the person had fallen off the mower and was lying on the ground.
Hahn said he initially assumed the person had driven into a wire and that the wire clotheslined the person, knocking them off the tractor. However, he did not see any wiring in the area that the person could have run into. Hahn said he did not hear a gunshot.
Hahn ran up to the body, which he said was motionless. He testified that he did not know who the person was or even if it was a man or a woman since the person was lying face down.
That was when Hansen walked from the house to the scene of the incident, Hahn said. Hansen, whom Hahn knew as a neighbor for several years, told Hahn not to touch the body and to call 911.
Hahn testified that Hansen said, “I shot ‘em.” Assistant Attorney General Andy Prosser, who was directing Hahn on the stand, asked him if he meant to say, “I shot her.” Hahn said he distinctly remembers Hansen saying “‘em” and not “her.” Hahn said Hansen’s words didn’t really sink in at first because Hahn was still looking for the wire that the person ran into. Hahn testified that he could see a lot of blood on the person’s face.
Prosser played the 911 call Hahn made to the dispatcher that afternoon at 3:43 p.m. Hahn told the dispatcher there was a shooting. Hahn said on the witness stand that Hansen was beside him when he made the call and helped him report the address.
The dispatcher asked Hahn who was shot, and Hahn said he didn’t know. The dispatcher asked if the person was alive or dead, and Hahn said they were dead and that there was blood all over. The dispatcher asked Hahn if he knew where the shooter was, and Hahn said the shooter went inside the house. The dispatcher told Hahn to get to a safe place.
Hahn returned to his car, parked north and west of Hansen’s residence. His wife, Debbie, was also in the car, although she was not called to testify by the prosecution. Hahn told the dispatcher that Hansen had come back outside and that he was walking around. The dispatcher asked if Hansen was armed and Hahn said he did not appear to be. Hahn said Hansen appeared to have his hands in his pockets, and that it looked as if Hansen was waiting for the police to arrive.
Hahn remained on the line with the dispatcher until county deputies arrived and handcuffed Hansen.
Defense attorney John Robertson cross-examined Hahn. Hahn said he did not feel threatened by Hansen when he was at the scene of the incident May 1, 2011. He said he had never seen Hansen do anything threatening. He said Hansen appeared to cooperate fully with law enforcement once it arrived.
Hahn said that when he arrived on the scene, he looked at the body to see if it was moving. He said that if he had seen some movement, he would have performed CPR on the person. However, he said that Hansen approached and told him not to touch the body.
Hahn testified that Hansen appeared to be “distraught” and that he was not acting like himself. He said Hansen was not hysterical or frantic, though.