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Bail set for Colo woman charged in shooting

1-3-2006 Iowa:

Newton, Ia. — Bail has been set at $100,000 for an 18-year-old woman charged with attempted murder of a Lambs Grove man.

Rachel Marie Huggins, 18, of Colo was arrested Sunday night. She also was charged with willful injury and going armed with intent, a Jasper County sheriff’s office spokesperson said.

Huggins purchased an 870 Remington 12-guage shotgun Sunday at 6:42 p.m. at a Des Moines area Wal-Mart, court papers said. At about 8 p.m., she arrived at the Lambs Grove home of Peter Sciarrotta, according to court documents. Sciarrotta's 14-year-old daughter answered the door and called her father to the door.

Huggins "raised the shotgun to his chest and Mr. Sciarrotta attempted to hide behind the door with Huggins then shooting through the door and into the victim's chest,'' court papers said.

Sciarrotta was taken to a hospital for treatment. His condition has not been released.

Sciarrota is a Newton Correctional Facility employee, Jasper County sherriff's officials said.

Huggins is being held in the Jasper County jail. ..more.. by BONNIE HARRIS

Shooting suspect had accused man of molesting her

1-4-2006 Iowa:

Newton, Ia. — Eighteen-year-old Rachel Marie Huggins bought a 12-gauge shotgun at a Des Moines-area Wal-Mart just after 6:30 Sunday evening, court records say, and drove about 30 miles east to the home of a man who she said had abused her.

At about 8 p.m., authorities allege, she shot family acquaintance Peter Sciarrotta at point-blank range as she stood at his door in Lambs Grove. Sciarrotta was listed in serious but stable condition Tuesday at a Des Moines hospital, officials said.

Court records show that the Colo teen, now in jail on attempted murder and other charges, in 2004 accused Sciarrotta of sex abuse, including improper touching and taking pictures of her nude in the photography studio he ran from his home.

Her accusations, and those of another unnamed teenager, prompted authorities to search Sciarrotta's home and studio in November 2004.

Sciarrotta, 47, a Newton Correctional Facility employee, was never charged with any crime.

Jasper County Attorney Steve Johnson said Tuesday that authorities did not find enough evidence in 2004 to support charges against Sciarrotta, but that an investigation continues.

"At this point, we do not have a criminal act," he said. "Do we have inappropriate behavior? Maybe, yes. But we do not have criminal behavior."

Still, Johnson stressed that "nothing we have found justifies (Huggins') actions the other night."

"Any of those prior accusations, even if all are true, do not amount to an excuse," Johnson said.

Court documents said that Huggins purchased an 870 Remington 12-gauge shotgun at 6:42 p.m. Sunday at a Des Moines-area Wal-Mart. She drove to Sciarrotta's home, where Sciarrotta's 14-year-old daughter answered the door. According to the documents, Huggins asked whether Sciarrotta was home, and the girl called her father to the door.

When he walked up, Huggins "raised the shotgun to his chest and Mr. Sciarrotta attempted to hide behind the door with Huggins then shooting through the door and into the victim's chest,'' court papers said.

Court documents included a report by Department of Human Services investigator Chuck Brown, who diagnosed Huggins as being "bipolar and having post-traumatic stress syndrome subject to sexual abuse.''

Brown also reported that he "suspects further abuse" suffered by Huggins that she had not reported.

Huggins' attorney, Richard Phelps of Mingo, said Huggins' family has had a relationship with Sciarrotta since 1999, although friends and relatives said she has not had contact with him for at least a year.

The teenager's mother, Tammy, works with Sciarrotta at the Newton Correctional Facility; her father is Colfax Police Chief Jon Huggins, who said Tuesday he had placed himself on administrative leave to deal with current issues related to his family.

"He's in a very delicate position here," Phelps said of Jon Huggins. "And I will tell you there's more to this story than any of us realize now.''

Huggins was charged with attempted murder, felony counts of willful injury and going armed with intent. Her bail was set Monday at $100,000. She remained Tuesday at the Jasper County Jail. Her preliminary hearing was set for Tuesday. ..more.. by

Jasper County Attorney pulls out of attempted murder case

2-13-2006 Iowa:

The Jasper County Attorney is stepping out of the prosecution of the attempted murder trial of 18-year-old Rachel Marie Huggins of Colo, who is accused of shooting correctional officer Peter Sciarotta. Walt Winston reports Jasper County made the move to avoid a conflict of interest after a request for information from Huggins' attorney.

Huggins attorney Maggi Moss filed motions requesting that the state provide all written statements and physical evidence that might be brought forth at the trial. Moss also requested any documents from an investigation conducted by the Iowa Department of Corrections against Tammi Huggins who is employed at the Newton Correctional Facility that was allegedly initiated by Sciarrotta and 13 other corrections officers.

Moss also requested all investigative notes, reports or files maintained by the Jasper County Attorney's Office and Department of Human Services regarding complaints field by Rachel Huggins against Sciarotta which included a search of Sciarotta's home in 2004 after Huggins had accused Sciarotta of inappropriate sexual behavior when the girl was 14 or 15 years old. Authorities took several items from Sciarotta's home including photographs and a computer, but no charges were filed, because police say there was not enough evidence to merit the filing of criminal charges against Sciarotta. ..more.. by Walt Winston, KGRN, Grinnell

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