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A Texas woman was sentenced to life in prison Monday for shooting an Arkansas State Police trooper.

Elsbeth Tresa Kittinger, 49, of Fort Worth, pleaded guilty Monday in Hot Spring County Circuit Court to charges of first-degree battery and commission of a felony with a firearm in connection with the April 1 shooting of Trooper Kyle Sheldon.

Initially, Kittinger also faced two charges each of attempted capital murder, unlawful discharge of a firearm and fleeing. But those charges were dropped as part of a plea agreement.

Kittinger was sentenced to life in prison plus 15 years, to run consecutively, according to a judge's note in the case file.

According to a fact statement filed Monday in circuit court, and confirmed by Kittinger, Sheldon stopped Kittinger's Dodge pickup at the Corner Store Valero in Rockport for traffic violations. A check of her driver's license indicated Kittinger had a warrant for her arrest out of Texas.

When Sheldon opened the door of Kittinger's pickup, she shot him with a .38-caliber pistol. The bullet struck Sheldon in the right shoulder and chest, above his vest, according to the court filing.

As Sheldon retreated for cover, Kittinger fired a second round but missed. Then she fled the scene in her vehicle and was apprehended a short time later by other law enforcement officers, according to the court document.

Sheldon survived the shooting.

According to an April 2 news release from the Arkansas State Police, officers from the Malvern Police Department were parked nearby when Sheldon was shot. They returned gunfire as Kittinger drove away.

"Local law enforcement officers fired a second time at the suspect as she fled onto Doyle Jones Road about five miles away from the traffic stop and first shooting scene," according to the news release.

Kittinger suffered a gunshot during her arrest.

"As Kittinger was lying on the ground after being removed from her vehicle, she can be heard on a Malvern Police Department body camera stating, 'I'm so sorry; I would rather die than go to jail," the arrest affidavit said.

The bullet shattered Sheldon's clavicle, the affidavit said. Surgery was required to repair the injuries, but the bullet wasn't removed because doctors feared it could cause further injury.

There was a profile of Sheldon on March 28 on the State Police Facebook page.

"Ever since I can remember I wanted to be a police officer ..." he wrote. "As I spent most of my childhood being moved from place to place, with parents who chose a lifestyle on the wrong side of the law, my passion to become a police officer grew even stronger. I recall many times seeing the police at my house, and many times I was the one that called them. When I saw the lights and the uniforms pull in the yard I knew from that point on that I was safe. I told myself that I would be the one who broke the cycle, and that I would set a new course in my family. I was determined to be successful and I never gave up."

According to the Facebook post, Sheldon met another family when he was 15 years old and they "adopted me as one of their own."

"They saved me, and they gave me a stable environment," he wrote.

He graduated from Glen Rose High School and attended Henderson State University before starting a job with the Arkansas Department of Correction. After five years there, Sheldon began working for the Malvern Police Department, where he spent nearly three years. He became a state trooper in 2015.


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Metro on 08/29/2018

Print Headline: Texan who shot state trooper draws life term

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