Husband shot wife dead claiming he mistook her for intruder – but things didn’t add up


Whatever it took to provide for her family, Alicia Gaston was willing to do it. The devoted mum lived in Windham, Maine, with her husband Noah and their three young children – and family was everything to her.

Alicia, 34, had chosen to homeschool their two older children, aged eight and nine, and she planned to do the same with their youngest when the time came.

Gaston, 33, had just left his job as a chef and was struggling to find another role, so it was getting hard to make ends meet.

Alicia was naturally creative, so she turned her hand to making extra money by knitting scarves and selling them. She was also the one who family went to for homemade birthday cakes, so it came as no surprise that she could use her talents to support her family financially.

It was January 2016 and times were hard for the Gaston family in other areas too. Alicia’s sister had been helping out by paying their phone bills and Alicia had confided in her that she had considered divorcing Gaston.

Had their money worries proved too much of a strain? Their loved ones started to wonder whether the young couple were going to make it. But Alicia simply knuckled down and did all she could to make a life for her children.

Then on January 14, Noah Gaston made a 911 call at 6.17am. ‘I just shot my wife in the stomach,’ he cried. ‘I thought she was an intruder.’

The dispatcher sent help immediately while they talked him through lifesaving CPR. He could be heard counting the chest compressions as he tried to kickstart his wife’s heart.

When the emergency services arrived they took over. Alicia was slumped in the stairwell in a pool of her own blood. But despite the best efforts of the paramedics, Alicia couldn’t be saved. Gaston had killed his wife.

Investigators looking at the evidence pieced together Alicia’s movements that morning. She’d woken up before dawn and had gone downstairs. The busy mum had started the laundry and had written a to-do list.

Alicia had made an iced coffee and placed it on the table in their living room. Then, as she was climbing up the stairs back to her children, Gaston had shot her in the stomach.

At no point did Gaston deny pulling the trigger, but he insisted that it was an accident. He said that he’d woken to hear noises coming from downstairs that sounded like walkie-talkies.

He told investigators that he thought there were two intruders communicating and he had panicked. After checking on the children, Gaston said he’d grabbed his shotgun because he believed his family was in danger.

When he reached the stairs, he could see a figure climbing up them, but because it was dark he couldn’t make out who it was. He explained that he pulled the trigger, without realising it was his wife.

Alicia had fallen back with a fatal bullet to the stomach, tumbling into the stairwell – and it was only then that he’d realised what he’d done. It was hard to fathom the tragedy and Gaston received a rush of sympathy.

But, straightaway, a few things didn’t add up. First responders noted that when they arrived, Gaston showed little emotion when he was spoken to in the kitchen. They said he had a blank expression and he didn’t behave like a grieving widower.

When paramedics stopped efforts to revive Alicia, he didn’t ask about her condition, which was strange if he’d wanted her to survive her wound.

Furthermore, when he was first questioned, Gaston said that Alicia was halfway up the stairs when he’d pulled the trigger – making her close to him.

But then he changed his account and said that she’d only climbed a couple of stairs at the bottom so was further away. That would make a big difference in his ability to make out who he was looking at.

Gaston said he hadn’t been wearing his glasses, which didn’t help his vision when he fired his 12-gauge shotgun, but he wasn’t required to wear glasses while driving so should have been able to see his wife clearly.

The biggest issue investigators had was Gaston’s movements before he fired the gun. When he’d heard noises downstairs, why hadn’t he looked in the bed next to him and seen his wife wasn’t there?

The bedroom was well lit, and it would have been an obvious first move to make. It wasn’t unusual for Alicia to wake early and get ready for the day before the kids awoke, so there was always a chance that any movement downstairs could have been his wife.

When gently questioned, Alicia’s two oldest children told police they had heard their parents arguing before the shooting. They said they had listened to them fighting before.

A week after Alicia’s death, Gaston was charged with both manslaughter and murder. It would be left to a jury to decide whether Gaston had intentionally killed his wife, or whether he had acted recklessly, leading to her death. Gaston pleaded not guilty to both charges and insisted it had been a terrible accident.

In February last year, Gaston faced a court, but it was quickly declared a mistrial after just one day because a medical examiner who was scheduled to testify said he needed to change a phrase in his report. A new trial was started in November.

With a new jury, the case was brought to life with a full-size replica of the top five steps of the Gaston’s staircase so jury members could climb it to give them an impression of what happened that fateful morning. As the jury listened to the 911 call and the counting of CPR, Gaston, who was wearing his wedding ring, started to cry.

The prosecution said that Gaston had wanted his wife to die and it was ‘practically certain’ that she would die from a shotgun blast at close range. ‘He saw in the illuminated bedroom that she wasn’t in

the bed,’ they said. ‘He didn’t hear walkie-talkies or multiple intruders. He saw her as she entered the stairway, and he saw her when she was no more than 18 inches from the muzzle of his shotgun. This was a killing without justification.’

They didn’t offer a motive as to why Gaston wanted his wife dead, although Alicia’s sister testified about their money worries and how Alicia had mentioned the possibility of divorce.

Gaston’s defence said his client had been ‘defending his family’ from an assumed intruder. ‘He made a terrible mistake,’ they said. ‘He caused a terrible accident and there is no way that this is anything other than a tragedy. But it’s not a crime.’

The prosecution said that Alicia was close to Gaston when she was shot because of a black mark found on Alicia’s ring finger, which was soot expelled from the shotgun.

They said it illustrated that Alicia could have been no more than 18 inches away from the barrel. But the defence said that Alicia was further away, more like one to two yards, when she was shot.

The fact that Gaston had changed his story about where Alicia was on the stairs made the jury suspicious.

The trial lasted five days and Gaston didn’t testify. The jury deliberated for 12 hours over three days before finding Gaston, now 37, guilty of murdering his wife. When he heard the verdict he slumped forward with his head in his hands. Alicia’s family were heard sighing with relief.

‘I was trying to protect my family,’ Gaston said, as he was taken away. Alicia’s family had waited four years for justice and were happy it was finally over, but they would never get Alicia back, for them or her children.

In June this year, Gaston was sentenced to 40 years in prison. The jury didn’t believe that he killed his wife by accident.

They concluded that he’d looked down the stairs knowing it was Alicia and fired his gun. Gaston said that he believed there was an intruder in his house, but he was the only one who didn’t belong in that family home.


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