YORK — A 9-year-old girl was whisked out of the home she and her mother shared with York attorney Michael Thomas Howe just minutes before Christina Adams shot and killed her boyfriend, a family friend who witnessed the shooting said Tuesday.
Daniel Martin, who said he is the girl's godfather, said he had eaten dinner at the couple's Smith Street home and left before Christina Adams called and asked him to come back.
"My objective was to get (the girl) ... out of the house where they were fighting or whatever," said Martin, 34.
Martin said he had just put his goddaughter in his truck and walked back into the house when he saw Adams shoot Howe.
"Thank God (the girl) didn't see anything," he said. "She heard the shots and knows what happened, but she didn't see it."
Martin said he then took the girl to the police station, less than a mile away, to report the shooting.
York Police found Howe shot to death in the bathroom of his home at 18 Smith St. at about 10:30 p.m. Monday.
Adams is charged with murder and possession of a weapon during a violent crime. She remained in custody at Moss Justice Center on Tuesday night, awaiting a bond hearing.
Police have not released a motive or said if the shooting was premeditated.
When police arrived at the home, they found both Adams and the gun police believe she used to shoot Howe in the front yard, York Police Chief Andy Robinson said.
When officers asked Adams what happened, she told them, "He has been shot," according to a police report. She then told police, "He hit me," according to the report, and pointed them toward the bathroom.
Howe had been shot several times and was found on his back in the bathroom, police said.
When police asked Adams about the weapon, the report says, "all she could recall was she dropped it as she ran out the back door."
Adams did not confess to shooting Howe, Robinson said.
Previous domestic disturbance
Police had been called to the Smith Street home on reports of domestic disputes before, records show.
Howe and Adams had begun dating in March 2009, after he represented her in court on drug possession charges, according to police reports. She pleaded guilty to that charge and paid a $100 fine, court records show.
Howe had a pending criminal domestic violence charge from a 2009 incident involving Adams, according to the State Law Enforcement Division.
In that incident, Adams had been researching side effects of steroids that she believed Howe had been taking, according to a police report. They began to argue, the report says, and Howe punched her before throwing her clothes on the back porch.
The next day, Adams called police and told them she didn't remember anything from the incident and wanted the charges dropped.
A year earlier, Adams was charged twice with driving under the influence, according to SLED. The outcomes of those charges was not known Tuesday.
In October 2010, police took Adams into emergency protective custody, according to reports, after she allegedly sent alarming text messages to a friend.
Police found smoke inside the residence and Adams bleeding from several wounds. She told officers she cut herself by accident on a candle holder when she was cooking dinner, according to the report.
After admitting she had drunk a bottle of wine, the report says, Adams was taken into protective custody and said, "I did not mean to hurt myself."
'Made everyone smile'
Friends of Howe say they are stunned at his death.
Howe was a "unique individual who made everyone smile," said friend Mark Jakabcsin of Charlotte.
"He was a big kid that always looked for fun and adventure," he told The Herald Tuesday. "Any time I needed help, I knew I could count on Mike."
Jakabcsin remembered Howe always being late, joking that the reason for his tardiness was that he "saw a shiny object on the side of the road and had to stop and investigate."
"Michael had a way of mending fences," Jakabcsin said. "He did not like for people to leave his life on a sour note. Truly a one-of-a-kind character that I will always remember."
"Michael was a friend, and I'm very sorry this happened," said Stacy Lewis, an attorney who practices in Rock Hill who had known Howe for several years.
Howe was a graduate of the University of South Carolina School of Law, according to his Facebook page. He was a volunteer reserve deputy for the York County Sheriff's Office at one point but was suspended and then dismissed after being accused of assault.
Howe's family did not wish to comment to The Herald on Tuesday.
Video from York PD press conference:
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Nicole E. Smith 803-329-4068