The saying goes something like “you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family.” For many people, the heated arguments we have with family are usually with our blood relatives.
But for others, relationships with families can be great while the ones they’ve chosen, either friends or significant others, can be the source of stress. In other words, some people choose poorly. One man would ultimately discover just how bad of a choice he’d made…
Christopher Katchur was beloved by his family. “He was the centerpiece of our family and the lifeblood of our gatherings,” said his oldest son, Christopher Jr. He said his dad loved playing the guitar and that he taught him how to fix cars and to take things apart and put them back together.
Generally Good Life
Christopher worked as an operations manager for Pittsburgh Electrical Insulation for decades. Though his first marriage hadn’t worked out, it had given him two loving sons, Christopher Jr. and Joseph. It seemed like everything in his life was pretty great except for one thing — his relationship with his current wife Patricia…
Like most couples, Christopher and Patricia would have disagreements from time to time. What was unusual is how intense and full of vitriol those arguments would be. There would be shouting and verbal abuse, most of it coming from Patricia.
Hot and Cold
“She would overreact,” said Melissa Ernst, Christopher’s niece. “He was always the voice of reason, always calm. She’d be in the middle of the street screaming at the top of her lungs.” Despite the significant rough patches in their relationship, they stayed together for years until things got a bit too intense…
Here We Go Again
On a Saturday afternoon in May of 2015, the tension between Christopher and Patricia that was always bubbling beneath the surface reached a boiling point. “I came home from errands and my wife started one of her many arguments,” Christopher said.
Worse Than Before
“I refused to argue with her, so she only got more enraged and began tearing up our home,” Christopher added. “She took our marriage license and burned it in the kitchen sink, made some calls, took her stuff, and left”…
Staying At Her Sister’s
Patricia was apparently more serious about ending things this time than she usually was during these arguments. She had gone to her sister’s nearby home to stay for the next few days. For his part, Christopher was also fed up with things and intended for this split to be permanent. He didn’t want Patricia in his home any more.
She’s On Drugs
But on the following Wednesday, Patricia did return. “She came to the door heavily sedated with her sister and dog, but I refused to let her in,” Christopher said. Patricia had come to pick up some of her belongings and after Christopher refused to let her in, she called the police…
The police ultimately let Patricia into her former home to collect the remainder of her things. In explaining, Christopher expressed his fears that Patricia may be a threat, “I informed police she had weapons (2 guns) permitted to carry and the police informed me to file PFA.
A PFA, or Protection From Abuse order would make it unlawful for Patricia to come near Christopher or his home. Because of Patricia’s temper and drug use, Christopher was worried, saying “while she is in a comatose state, who knows what she is capable of doing to me or herself”…
Order of Protection
After Patricia and her sister left, Christopher went to the courthouse. There, he obtained paperwork to temporarily evict Patricia from the couple’s home and ordered her not to abuse or contact him. The judge Christopher spoke to was more concerned than usual that the order be processed and served quickly because Patricia had access to firearms.
I’ll Do It Myself
Christopher, didn’t share his concerns, however. He had changed the locks on the home so he was confident she wasn’t there. He also believed that it would be better if he served the order of protection to Patricia himself, rather than go through the police. The judge was adamant that it would be best to take the order to the police right away…
Instead of listening to the judge’s advice and going to the police station right away, Christopher went home first, accompanied by his nephew Joseph Ernst. But when they arrived, Christopher immediately regretted that decision. There inside his home, he found Patricia sleeping in what used to be their shared bed.
I’ll Let Myself In
While Christopher was at the courthouse, Patricia had come to the home. When she found that the locks had been changed, she removed a window air-conditioning unit and climbed inside. Once in, she went upstairs, put on some pajamas, took an ambien and went to sleep…
Patricia was awakened by Christopher telling her that she needed to leave. He showed her the PFA against her and said he was going to call the police right away. Then, Christopher went outside, sat down on the porch with the PFA in one hand and his cell phone in the other.
You Can’t Help Him
That’s when Patricia came out the front door right behind him, raised her .38 caliber handgun towards him and shot him once in the back. Joseph Ersnst, Christopher’s nephew was right there when Patricia fired. As Joseph cradled Christopher in his arms, Patricia stood over him shouting “You can’t help him! I killed him!”…
Patricia then went back inside the house, unloaded the handgun, and sat waiting for the police. When they arrived, Patricia told them her husband hadn’t physically attacked her and that the shooting wasn’t an accident. She said “I was so tired of hearing it. I just wanted to shut him up.”
Open and Shut
The police arrested Patricia immediately. Having confessed to the crime and offering no motive other than hatred for the victim, it would be difficult for any lawyer to mount a defense on behalf of Patricia. Instead, she tried to get a plea deal…
In exchange for pleading guilty to third-degree murder, Patricia was given a sentence of 15 to 30 years in prison. While Christopher’s family and friends were obviously emotionally devastated by his death, Patricia bizarrely claimed that she was hurt too. “There’s always two sides to a story,” she said. “I suffer just like them. I wish it never happened.”
“He showed me everything I am today,” Christopher’s youngest son, Joseph said. “We were inseparable. He was my everything. She took him from me. Her selfish, cowardly act of murder took him from me for the rest of my life.” He added “although she tried to ruin our family, she pulled us closer together.”