In the wee hours of the morning on Feb. 3, Amos McGhee, 56, was roused from a deep sleep by his 21-year-old daughter Amy who came into his room crying and screaming. McGhee said it sounded like his daughter’s abusive boyfriend was in the house. So he got dressed, grabbed a loaded .22 caliber pistol and walked downstairs. A few minutes later, McGhee shot and wounded Chase Dent-Wells, 25, in the basement of McGhee’s Brooklyn Park home.
That’s according to testimony today in the trial of Dent-Wells, who is charged with stalking, illegal possession of a firearm, terroristic threats and two counts of assault. On the witness stand in Hennepin County District Court, McGhee testified that before he fired, he asked Dent-Wells to leave several times. “What are you doing here? And didn’t I tell you not to come to my house?” McGhee said he told the defendant, with his gun pointed toward the floor. McGhee said he even fired a warning shot near Dent-Wells that struck a lamp.
McGhee said he knew his daughter, who lived with him, had a volatile relationship with Dent-Wells. And he testified he’d seen his daughter with scratches on her face and a black eye from violent encounters with Dent-Wells. McGhee said he saw Dent-Wells take a silver gun out of his waistband. “I thought he was going to shoot me,” said McGhee.
The court heard a different account from defense attorney Bobby Joe Champion. In his opening statement, Champion said Amy McGhee let Dent-Wells into the house so they could talk. The couple had recently split up and Champion says Dent-Wells was unarmed when he took a taxi to see Amy McGhee. Champion said Dent-Wells told the taxi driver not to leave until he got in the house, because he wasn’t sure Amy McGhee would let him in.
“If you really don’t want someone at your house, call the police or get a restraining order,” said Champion. But no one in the house called 911 until after the shooting.
Amos McGhee is legally prohibited from possessing a firearm because of past criminal convictions; however, he was not charged for possessing a gun on Feb. 3rd. Nor was he charged for shooting Dent-Wells. Champion raised the possibility that the 9 mm pistol McGhee alleges was pointed at him by Dent-Wells may have actually come from McGhee. Police searched McGhee’s home two days after the shooting and found 9 mm ammunition in a bag in his bedroom. McGhee denied ownership of that 9mm gun.
McGhee did admit to buying the .22 caliber pistol he used to shoot Dent-Wells, even though he knows he’s legally prohibited from possessing it. He testified he bought the gun for protection and he got it “off the street. From a personal owner,” said McGhee. “I got the receipt for it.”
Champion said evidence in the trial will show Dent-Wells was the victim, not the aggressor. Dent-Wells was struck three times by bullets fired from McGhee’s gun. Champion says all shots hit him in the back of his body: one bullet hit Dent-Wells in the back of his head, another in his shoulder and the third struck his leg. He said that shows Dent-Wells was trying to get away when he was shot.
The trial continues this week.