Vega’s stepmother on phone when fatally shot

Published 11:37 am Thursday, March 6, 2014

Michelle Vega was attempting to make a phone call when her 14-year-old stepdaughter shot her in the face in 2011, jurors heard Wednesday.

While being interrogated in 2011, Tyla Vega, whose 17th birthday was Wednesday, told Warren County investigator Stacy Rollison that her stepmother was making a phone call when she shot here in the jaw with a .270-caliber hunting rifle.

Jurors watched a nearly two-hour video of the interrogation during the second day of testimony in Tyla Vega’s murder trial before Circuit Judge Isadore Patrick.

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“She had the phone like this,” Vega said during the interrogation while mimicking holding a phone to her ear.

“I picked up the gun and pointed it at her face and shot her.”

Michelle Vega’s son — Tyla Vega’s stepbrother — found her body in a pool of blood at the family home at 100 Jones Road on May 2, 2011. That morning, Michelle Vega had gone to Warren County Youth Court to file a complaint that her stepdaughter had stolen and wrecked the family vehicle the previous weekend, Youth Detention Center intake officer Horace Allen said.

“It was kind of emotional,” Allen said. “She was telling me she didn’t want her put back in detention but knew something had to happen.”

Vega was taken to the detention on April 18, 2011, Allen said. The next day Warren County Judge Johnny Price, who has jurisdiction over Youth Court cases, ruled that Vega would be held in detention until April 26 when she was placed on probation and released to her parents.

Defense attorney Marshall Sanders contends Tyla Vega picked up the gun out of fear and shot Michelle Vega on accident. During opening statements Tuesday Sanders said Tyla Vega suffered from post traumatic stress disorder because of ongoing abuse.

Allen testified that Tyla Vega never told any counselors, teachers or youth detention officers of any abuse during her eight-day stint in the facility.

In the the taped interrogation presented to jurors Vega says she was physical and emotionally abused and suffered ridicule from Michell Vega because of her race.

Vegas biological father is white and her biological mother is black. Michelle Vega was white.

Wesley White, Vega’s stepbrother testified Tuesday that Tyla Vega was never excluded from family activities and that his aunts have biracial children.

Tyla Vega repeatedly told Rollison that she had attempted to leave the home and had planned to travel to Greenville where her biological mother was living.

“I don’t have a connection there,” Tyla Vega said in the taped statement about the home on Jones Road.

Initially, Tyla Vega denied shooting her stepmother and told Rollison that she skipped school and hid in an abandoned trailer all day before finding Michelle Vega’s body.

“I didn’t shoot her,” Tyla Vega said multiple times during the interrogation.

After the shooting, Vega said, she took the keys to the family’s Dodge Durango, asked a friend for gas money and drove to Greenville.

She was arrested six days after the shooting in Greenville by the U.S. Marshal Service.

Trial continued this morning in Warren County Circuit Court.