Dora Adair stood hunched over the microphone in a fifth-floor courtroom in Gretna on Friday morning, dressed in black with glasses perched on her nose and a puff of gray hair on her head.
Two months ago, a jury found her guilty of negligent homicide.
The 70-year-old retiree and church volunteer was asked Friday if she wanted to say anything before Judge June Darensburg pronounced the sentence she would serve for shooting her husband during an argument at their Marrero home in November 2010.
“I just want to say how sorry I am for the pain I have caused Jim’s family and mine,” she said through tears she dabbed away with a tissue. “And I just pray that one day they can forgive me.”
Darensburg then sentenced her to five years of probation for killing Jim Adair.
The judge said she believes the shooting was an accident, that Dora Adair’s remorse is genuine and that the pain she will live with knowing she killed her husband of 48 years is punishment enough.
“I am strongly convinced she is missing him a whole bunch,” she said.
Darensburg, of 24th Judicial District Court, noted that Dora Adair herself called 911 immediately after the shooting, and she cited testimony from a paramedic that the man known as “Jimbo” first tried to cover for his wife, saying he had shot himself, and later said he didn’t think his wife meant to shoot him.
Jim Adair died four days after the shooting.
“I absolutely think it was an accident,” Darensburg said.
She called the incident a tragic example of what can happen when loaded weapons are present in heated situations.
The jury rejected the charge of second-degree murder on March 26, instead finding Dora Adair guilty of negligent homicide.
According to reporting by Nola.com during the three-day trial, the Adairs were fighting over a line of credit she had taken out for a dental procedure, and he slapped her in the face, grabbed a kitchen knife and said he was going to kill her.
Dora Adair then ran to the garage and got a loaded handgun, came back inside and shot him in the stomach, though she testified she wanted only to scare him and couldn’t recall whether she had cocked the gun.
During Friday’s hearing, Darensburg heard impact statements from several supporters of Dora Adair and one person called by the prosecution.
Joan Adair, Jim’s sister, told the court she believes the dispute was over a winning lottery ticket — worth a reported $200,000 — that Jim and some others had purchased, “and I will never be convinced otherwise.”
Joan Adair said she doesn’t think Dora Adair should be imprisoned for the rest of her life but that she should serve more time than the eight days she spent in jail before bonding out.
“She should serve time for taking my brother’s life,” she said, sobbing.
Assistant District Attorney Kelly Rish said Madeline Adair, another sister, had contacted her to say she did not want to make a statement in court but wanted the record to reflect she does not agree with Joan Adair’s theory about the argument.
The rest of the witnesses testified in support of Dora Adair.
Father Mike Kettenring, her pastor, said he found her “deeply remorseful” for the shooting, and Lee Vorisek, who employed Dora Adair at various companies, said he trusted her enough to have her babysit his children and to give her access to company finances.
“I trust her infinitely,” he said.
Outside the courtroom, Dora Adair hugged friends and family who lined the hallway, but through her attorney, Richard Richthofen, she declined to comment on the sentence.
Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder