Defense lawyers for a woman accused of killing her father in Mount Pleasant's affluent I'On community pressed police Tuesday for details of past domestic violence between the two and whether other weapons were found in their home.
But an attorney for Brittany Simpson, who faces a murder charge in Rob Simpson's death, said after a preliminary hearing it is too early to tell how she might fight the case.
The police found no weapons near the victim's body.
"It’s our job as lawyers to look at all potential defenses," lawyer David Aylor said. "Obviously, self-defense is one that comes to mind ... just considering the circumstances of a domestic scenario. We’re not at a point to come to any conclusions."
The proceeding marked Brittany Simpson's first court appearance since a bail hearing shortly after her arrest. It ended with Magistrate James Gosnell ruling the case should proceed toward a trial. But it left unanswered questions about whether any mental illness would factor into Simpson's defense; police reports have indicated the 31-year-old had long struggled with bipolar disorder.
Simpson, clad Tuesday in jail garb and handcuffs, remains behind bars without bail. Police have said she acknowledged shooting her father, a 66-year-old driver for film crews.
Preliminary hearings are designed as an opportunity for a judge to determine whether authorities had enough cause to make an arrest.
Detective Ashley Goode of the Mount Pleasant Police Department testified that on May 9, the day of the shooting, Simpson was being evicted from the family home at 38 Saturday Road. She had often butted heads with family members, who have described her behavior in past episodes as bizarre.
"It was ... a heated time," Goode said. "There were heated arguments back and forth about her staying or leaving."
Hearing gunfire early that morning, loved ones ran downstairs and found a bloody scene in the hallway outside the master bedroom. Simpson's father was lying in the room, behind a closed door.
Simpson was there, exclaiming that a possible intruder had just run away. She had been out exercising earlier that morning, she would later add.
But Goode said evidence indicated Simpson had shot her father once in the chest, then ran to the end of a nearby dock over a creek.
"She threw the handgun and the clothing into the water," Goode testified. Divers later recovered the items.
Detectives figured she had shot her father in a hallway leading from his bedroom to the kitchen, Goode said. He then collapsed in his room.
Responding to lawyers' questions, Goode said no weapons were found near him. A knife was left on a table in the nearby kitchen, she said.
Assistant Solicitor Denton Matthews objected when a defense attorney quizzed Goode on any domestic violence history in the family, and Gosnell agreed to halt such questioning.
But Aylor pointed out that his client was still living in the home legally when the shooting happened.
"That was her last day to get out," Goode said.