Mills County Attorney Marci McClellan said it could be several weeks before her office decides to add to charges for Elizabeth Brannen after her brother Chad Brannen died last week from injuries sustained in a shooting Aug. 9.
Chad Brannen, 34, died last Tuesday at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha from a single gunshot wound. Elizabeth Brannen, 31, was charged 24 hours earlier with reckless use of a firearm causing serious injury after she shot Chad Brannen early Sunday morning with a .22 caliber handgun at a residence just south of the Mills County line at 17022 Allis Road.
Reckless use of a firearm causing serious injury is a Class C felony and punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
“She is charged at this time with the highest level of offense the facts support,” McClellan said.
McClellan is considering a second charge of involuntary manslaughter pending the results of Wednesday's autopsy. Involuntary manslaughter is a Class D felony punishable by up to five years in prison. The results of the autopsy and toxicology are not expected for at least two weeks.
According to the Mills County Sheriff's Office report the shooting occurred sometime after 7:30 a.m. on Aug. 9, when Chad Brannen and Elizabeth Brannen went to visit Tye Root, the resident at the Allis Road home. Chad Brannen had the .22 caliber Ruger handgun in his possession at that time. Upon entering the residence, Root confronted Brannen about the gun. Chad Brannen stated the gun was loaded with blanks and fired one round in the living room of the home to apparently prove the gun was loaded with blanks. Mr. Brannen then handed the gun to his sister and told her to shoot the gun at him to further prove his point. Elizabeth Brannen then fired the gun at her brother.
Chad Brannen collapsed onto the coffee table. When Root lifted Mr. Brannen's head he discovered a single gunshot wound to his forehead. Elizabeth Brannen then transported Chad Brannen to Jennie Edmundson Hospital in her vehicle. He was later transferred to the Nebraska Medical Center where he was listed in critical condition.
McClellan said she has not reviewed the Iowa Division of Criminical Investigation’s complete report but did say the statements of Root and several other witnesses present during the shooting, are consistent with Elizabeth Brannen's accounts.
Chad Brannen was pronounced dead on Tuesday night.
Elizabeth Brannen was arrested by the Council Bluffs Police Department and the DCI on the afternoon of Aug. 9. Mills County formally filed charges last Monday.
Brannen was given pre-trial release with supervision. Brannen lives in Council Bluffs.
McClellan called the circumstances of the shooting “unique.” Mills County Sheriff Eugene Goos called the incident one of the strangest he's been involved in.
“It goes back to the thought process,” said Goos. “Normal people wouldn't do that. You don't point a loaded gun at someone, but you don't know what they were doing or what they were thinking.”
A preliminary hearing for Elizabeth Brannen is scheduled for Aug. 28 in Mills County Court.