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Sturgeon Lake woman accused in shooting

A Sturgeon Lake woman faces an attempted first-degree murder charge after Pine County authorities said she admitted to twice shooting her boyfriend during an argument at their home on Tuesday.

The incident was initially reported as accidental and self-inflicted, but a criminal complaint filed Thursday makes it clear that authorities were suspicious of the story from the start.

The victim, 40-year-old Daniel Scott, was struck twice in the chest, but the wounds were not accompanied by any charring or black coloring from powder burns. The spent shell casings were located a “significant

distance” apart on the floor. The weapon, a .380-caliber handgun, was found on top of a microwave in another room, while Scott lay in pain in a recliner.

Eventually, authorities said, Scott and girlfriend Karen Lynn Eaton changed their stories. While those accounts varied significantly, both versions included Eaton shooting Scott twice during an argument.

Eaton, 38, was arraigned Thursday in State District Court in Pine City on five felony charges. In addition to attempted first-degree murder, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, she faces charges of attempted second-degree murder, first-degree assault and two counts of second-degree assault.

Judge James T. Reuter set Eaton’s bail at $75,000 with conditions or $200,000 without, and she remained in custody Thursday evening. Her next court appearance was scheduled for Aug. 29.

According to the criminal complaint:

Deputies were dispatched to the rural Sturgeon Lake home, 23285 Farm to Market Road, about 6 p.m. Tuesday. The 911 caller reported that a Dan Scott had been shot, and then hung up.

A deputy responded and found Scott, in apparent severe pain, lying in a recliner. Scott said he was cleaning a gun when he shot himself in the chest twice. The deputy noted that there was not much blood coming from the wound, and there was no sign of a close-range wound.

The deputy asked about the gun, and Eaton pointed to the top of the microwave, where a semi-automatic handgun was found. Eaton said she had been in the barn when she heard a shot. She said she came in to find Scott injured and called 911.

Scott initially was taken to Mercy Hospital in Moose Lake before being airlifted to St. Luke’s in Duluth. At the hospital, he gave a statement to a Duluth police officer.

“Scott stated that the two had been arguing and he locked himself in his bedroom because he didn’t want to fight,” the complaint states. “Scott stated he thought the defendant was gone so he left the bedroom at which point (Eaton) appeared and they began arguing again. Scott stated she then shot him with her pistol.”

Scott reported that he then began crawling toward the door to find the couple’s 5-year-old son, who was outside. He said Eaton shot him again as he crawled on the floor.

Eaton gave a statement, telling an investigator that she and Scott and been arguing throughout the day. She stated that argument became physical and she went to the doctor because she believed she may have broken her ribs.

When she returned, Eaton said, Scott came out of their bedroom and their argument resumed. They ended up on the ground, with Scott on top of her, choking her, she said.

Scott said, “I’m sorry I have to do this,” she reported.

Eaton said she went out to the truck and retrieved a pistol. She said she went back inside and encountered Scott, who said: “If you have a gun, you better use it.”

Eaton said she shot Scott as he continued to walk toward her. Scott was unfazed and continued to approach her when she shot him again, she said. Eaton said she was unable to recall how exactly the second shot occurred.

Eaton said she tried to help Scott, but he would not let her call 911, so she left the residence to make the call.

Crime scene mapping indicated that shots probably were fired a significant distance apart and at separate times from different locations, according to the complaint.