Pittsburg woman accused of killing husband released after judge dramatically reduces her bail

Bay Area

PITTSBURG (KRON) — The Pittsburg woman accused of murdering her husband is now out of jail and a free woman after a judge lowered her bail significantly.

The victim, 45-year-old Paul Shatswell was the principal at the Pitsburg Adult Education Center.

“To see that happen in the court it’s just a big slap in the face,” Jonathan Shatswell, Paul’s son said.

Jonathan is one of the victim’s eight surviving children who is upset after a Contra Costa judge reduced his stepmother’s bail from over $2 million to $150,000 back in July, which allowed her to walk free awaiting trial for murder.

According to Pittsburg police, Paul and his wife Maria Vides got in an argument on March 16 when officials believe she shot him in their Pittburg home, that they shared with their three sons aged six, 12 and 14. 

Paul was on life support until he died two weeks later. 

He had been a pillar of the community with a long career in education, working for nearly a decade with the West Contra Costa Unified School District.

“For us, it’s very frustrating because it’s not like we wanted a death sentence or anything,” Jonathan said. “Fortunately for her, it’s suspended in California. We do think that there should be repercussions for peoples actions.”

“It’s understandable that the family would be upset, outraged even,” Vidas’ defense attorney said.

He believes the judge reduced the bail based on evidence that he says supports his theory it was an accidental shooting after the pair struggled over the gun. 

He said an autopsy photo showed Shatswell was shot in the temple, rather than the back of the head as put forward by police, as well as evidence that the pair had both been drinking.

“Maria over and over says, ‘I would’ve never killed Paul, I love Paul I wanted to spend the rest of my life with Paul he’s my husband’ and was crying hysterically,” the defense attorney said.

Vitas is allowed supervised visitation of her three children who are in the custody of her sister-in-law.

She is back in court for her preliminary hearing on Oct. 1.

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