Pennsylvania judge charged with shooting ex as he slept was cleared of similar crime against husband

Francis Akhalbey February 20, 2024
Pennsylvania judge Sonya McKnight is accused of shooting her ex-boyfriend -- Photo Credit: Dauphin County Prison

Authorities in Pennsylvania said a Magisterial District Judge allegedly shot her ex-boyfriend in the head as he slept and then tried to convince the victim that he opened fire on himself. According to NBC News, Sonya McKnight, who has been serving as a Dauphin County judge since 2016, shot her ex-boyfriend at a home in Harrisburg after he attempted to end their relationship.

The victim, identified as Michael McCoy, and McKnight, 57, had been dating for a year before he attempted to break up with her. Susquehanna Township Police stated that on February 10, McKnight called 911 and reported that her boyfriend had lost his vision. She also asked for an ambulance to respond to the scene. McKnight in the call claimed she was unaware of what had occurred as she awoke to the victim’s screams, the affidavit stated.

But McCoy in the wake of the shooting told investigators that he had attempted to end his relationship with the suspect on multiple occasions. And though the victim retrieved his key from McKnight in a certain instance, the accused judge gained access to his home with a spare key. McCoy had gone to work when McKnight entered his home, the affidavit stated.

McCoy informed investigators that he came home to meet McKnight on February 9 before leaving and making his way to a local bar that evening, the affidavit states, per NBC News. The victim later went back home, but the situation between the pair was described as tense. McCoy also declined McKnight’s request for a conversation and told the suspect he was going to ask her mother to help him remove her from his residence.

“At this point Sonya McKnight responds, ‘Oh, You’re serious?’ Michael McCoy stated that it was like she finally understood that it was over,” the affidavit stated, adding that McCoy subsequently went to sleep.

McCoy informed investigators that about an hour or two after retiring to bed, he woke “up with massive head pain” and lost his vision. “He begins screaming and he hears Sonya McKnight say, ‘Mike what did you do to yourself,’” per the affidavit.

But in that moment, McKnight is said to have attempted to convince McCoy that he had shot himself. The affidavit, however, stated that McCoy was adamant he did not open fire on himself. Detectives also found McKnight to be “deceptive” when they spoke with her after the shooting. Authorities determined the gun linked to the shooting was registered in McKnight’s name, while gun residue was also found on the suspect’s hands after a test was executed. That was one hour after the incident, per NBC News.

“It is alleged that McKnight shot the victim in the head while the victim was sleeping in bed,” the Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement. “The bullet entered the right side of the victim’s face, traversed through his head in a straight line behind and slightly below his eyes and exited the left side of his face.”

McCoy survived the shooting but is currently blind in one eye as a result, the statement added. McKnight, who was taken into custody on February 15, has since been charged with first-degree attempted murder and aggravated assault. Her bail was also set at $300,000.

The February 10 shooting adds up to other run-ins the accused judge has had with the law. In November, the Court of Judicial Discipline suspended McKnight without pay after she was accused of going against judicial probation on a misconduct case linked to her son’s arrest in 2020, The Associated Press reported. McKnight was accused of interfering in that case, though she was cleared of criminal charges. 

Authorities also cleared McKnight of any wrongdoing in connection with the 2019 shooting of her estranged husband at her home, reported. Authorities determined she acted in self-defense. 

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: February 20, 2024


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