Trial date set for Fairfield woman charged in husband’s death

A trial date has been set for a woman accused in the August shooting death of her husband at their Fairfield home.

Subha Katel, 43, was charged on Aug. 13 with negligent homicide, a first-degree misdemeanor, three days after what family members called a “horrific accident,” and the day after her husband Tika Katel died from a gunshot wound on the left side of his head.

Fairfield police say Katel was handling a handgun belonging to a cousin who was visiting Tika Katel’s ill mother on Aug. 10 at their Sigmon Way home. Police say the gun fired and the bullet struck the 57-year-old in the head. He was transported to Mercy Health-Fairfield Hospital, then to University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where he died on Aug. 12.

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Today, during a pre-trial hearing, Judge Joyce Campbell set Dec. 4 as Katel’s trial date.

“The circumstances of this case are horrific,” defense attorney Tina Barrett said to the Journal-News. “It is a tragedy for the entire Fairfield community, but it is a nightmare without end for my client and her family.

“Nothing can transpire in the court that will change that or undo what has happened. My goal is to get my client and her family through this process without making it worse. My hope is that these goals are shared by those who ultimately have the power to support such aims.”

Family members spoke with the Journal-News after Katel’s August arraignment. They said the couple, who had been together for 26 years, were living the American Dream and “loved each other.” They moved to Fairfield less than a year ago and moved to southwest Ohio from Nepal several years before.

Fairfield Police Sgt. Pete Lagemann said the department consulted with both the city prosecutor and the Butler County Prosecutor’s Office before filing the misdemeanor charge against Katel.

“There was a question in her mind and she chose to handle the object without knowing one way or another if it would go off,” Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said. “She had a duty to find out before she touched the firearm.”

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During the investigation, officers were told that just after 3 p.m., Katel saw a handgun holstered in the waistband of a cousin, Subash Katel, who was with other relatives visiting from Pennsylvania, according to Fairfield Municipal Court documents.

Subash Katel was seated in the living room and “in a matter of seconds, Subha Katel saw the gun and grabbed the gun from the holster. As she was grabbing the gun … Subha Katel asked Subash Katel if the gun was a toy or real,” according to the court documents.

As Subha Katel asked if the gun was real, she allegedly pulled the trigger and fired the weapon, police said. Subha Katel said she was trying to hand the gun back to Subash Katel when it “went off,” and she was uncertain if she actually handed it back to her cousin or she dropped it.

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Previous reporting by Staff Writer Michael D. Pitman is in this story.

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