A Cole County man charged with involuntary manslaughter for Sunday’s apparent accidental shooting death of his live-in girlfriend will make his first court appearance Friday morning. Cole County prosecutor Locke Thompson tells 939 the Eagle that 23-year-old Joshua Wilbers will be arraigned tomorrow at 10:30 am, via video.
The Cole County Sheriff Department’s probable cause statement quotes Wilbers as saying he accidentally shot Hallie Phillips on Sunday afternoon near Taos. Wilbers is also charged with armed criminal action. The probable cause statement quotes Wilbers as telling deputies that he recently purchased a 22-rifle and planned to go outside to shoot the gun. Wilbers tells deputies that girlfriend Phillips asked him about the firing pin. Wilbers says he removed the magazine from the bolt action gun and cycled the bolt back at least twice to ensure that there was not a shell in the gun’s chamber.
Wilbers says he looked down at the firearm and pulled the trigger and it fired, striking Phillips in the face. She was flown by helicopter to University Hospital in Columbia and died about 90 minutes after the shooting, according to court documents.
The probable cause statement quotes Wilbers as telling Cole County deputies that he picked Phillips up as soon as she was shot and carried her to a vehicle but then decided to call 911 instead, because he feared he wouldn’t make it to the hospital on time. Court documents say video from a home security system outside the home corroborates Wilbers’ statements. The court documents also note that Wilbers had no obvious wounds or injuries and that deputies did not see other injuries to Phillips, other than the gunshot wound to the head.