A man who Indianapolis police seized a firearm from under Indiana's red flag law has been convicted of voluntary manslaughter for fatally shooting his wife.
Jason Phipps, 40, was convicted Tuesday after a two-day bench trial. His case has been pending since he was arrested for shooting Jill Phipps with a shotgun the morning of July 8, 2020. She was 38 when she was killed.
"It's been a long, long, long time coming," Brenda Limbach, Jill Phipps' mother, told IndyStar Tuesday.
Prosecutors originally brought a murder charge against him. His attorneys argued for a lesser charge of reckless homicide.
Marion Superior Judge Angela Davis found that "sudden heat" was a factor in the crime, which reduces a murder charge into a lower charge of voluntary manslaughter under Indiana law. Sudden heat means intense emotions like fear or anger prevent someone from premeditating their crime.
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Weeks prior to the shooting, police seized a handgun from Jason Phipps after an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police officer responded to an incident at the Phipps' residence. Under Indiana's red flag law, law enforcement can remove firearms from someone they believe to be a threat to themselves or others.
The officer found Jason Phipps outside in his underwear yelling at Jill Phipps and walking toward her with his fists clenched. The officer also found redness on Jill Phipps' neck and lip, although she didn't say if her husband had assaulted her.
The firearm seizure was never followed with a red flag court proceeding against Jason Phipps - a key step in the process that may have temporarily suspended his right to own a gun.
Seventeen days after that seizure, he used a different gun to end Jill Phipps' life.
'He destroyed her'
"He destroyed her," Limbach told IndyStar. "He mentally and physically destroyed her."
The morning she was shot, one of their children told police Jason Phipps "sometimes hit Jill." They'd intervene to stop it when it happened, the child said.
Two of their children were in the house July 8, 2020 and heard the gunshot, police said. They both saw their mom wounded. One of the children took the shotgun from Jason Phipps after the shooting.
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Their children "lost both their parents," Limbach said. She was on her way to pick up the youngest child from school when she spoke to IndyStar.
Limbach said voluntary manslaughter wasn't the verdict they wanted, but it was better than the reckless homicide charge petitioned by the defense. Voluntary manslaughter carries a maximum penalty of 30 years imprisonment, while reckless homicide carries a maximum penalty of six years imprisonment.
She plans on speaking about her daughter at Jason Phipps' sentencing hearing in June.
"The whole trial was about Jason," Limbach said, "but now we want them to know about Jill."
Call IndyStar courts reporter Johnny Magdaleno at 317-273-3188 or email him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @IndyStarJohnny
This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Jason Phipps convicted of voluntary manslaughter for shooting his wife