Attempted Murder charge dropped; faces up to 15 years in prison
By Brett Nachtigall
HOT SPRINGS – An Edgemont woman pleaded guilty to Aggravated Assault in Fall River County Court on Friday, Nov. 17, and could face up to 15 years in prison, following a domestic dispute that took place on the night of Aug. 31, 2023, at 301 Valley View Lane in Edgemont.
Rebecca Wasserburger, 49, has been held in Fall River County Jail on $300,000 cash or surety bond since the incident, which also carried an additional charge of Attempted First Degree Murder, after pointing a hand gun at her husband Wade Wasserburger and trying to fire the weapon.
In exchange for her guilty plea on the Aggravated Assault charge, the state agreed to drop the Attempted First Degree Murder charge, which was punishable up to 25 years in prison and/or $50,000 in fines. Aggravated Assault is a Class 3 Felony and is punishable up to 15 years’ imprisonment and/or $30,000 in fines.
Fall River County States Attorney Lance Russell, who was prosecuting the case, agreed to an open sentencing which will be decided by 7th Circuit Court Judge Jeff Connolly on Friday, Dec. 15, at 10 a.m., where Russell and Wasserburger’s attorney Scott James, with Southern Hills Law PLLC of Custer, will argue for the sentence they believe is best-suited for the offense.
When accepting her guilty plea at the Nov. 17 arraignment, Judge Connolly asked Wasserburger to explain what happened on the night Aug. 31. Her attorney interjected and briefly summarized that it was a domestic dispute that took place in the couple’s home. Wasserburger, speaking directly to the judge, then admitted to pulling a loaded gun on her husband. With the judge’s assistance, she then agreed with his words that she did so with the intent “to cause fear of severe and eminent bodily harm.”
Her attorney asked the judge to use the law enforcement incident report as the factual basis in regards to her pleading guilty to Aggravated Assault.
According to the Fall River County Sheriff’s incident report from Aug. 31, Deputies Isnalawica Belt, Blaine Wilson and Brandon Peterson received a domestic dispute call from dispatch at about 9:45 p.m., which was phoned in by the victim, Wade Wasserburger.
The officers arrived on the scene in two seperate vehicles at approximately 10 p.m., at which time Rebecca Wasserburger was found unarmed and inside a shop building located on the couple’s property. She complied with all of the officers’ request and was arrested without further incident. During that time, she admitted to officers of being upset with her husband Wade and threatening to kill him while pointing a gun at him.
Wade was found inside the home and stated he had disarmed his wife earlier and then locked her out of the house and called 911.
He told officers that he and his wife had been in an argument and were texting back-and-forth. After some time, Rebecca then allegedly entered Wade’s bedroom and pointed the gun at him. He stated that Rebecca “tried three times to shoot” him, but the gun had malfunctioned each time she attempted to pull the slide back. Upon inspection, Deputy Belt discovered the reason for the malfunction and described it in his report as being due to “a double feed,” which occurs when a cartridge remains in the chamber of the firearm and the breech face of the slide is attempting to strip and feed a second cartridge behind the one in the chamber.
When asked by the officers what was going through his mind when his wife was allegedly pointing the gun at him, Wade stated, “I was done. She was going to shoot me. There was no doubt in my mind.”
After observing that the gun was not functioning, Wade told officers he got up and took the gun from her and threw it away where she could not reach it. He said that he then pushed her back several times while Rebecca threw objects at him. Their argument transitioned outside, according to Wade, which is when Rebecca went into the garage and he thought she could then be going for another weapon.
Rebecca Wasserburger was originally held on $100,000 cash bond but Circuit Court Judge Todd Hyronimus modified that to $300,000 on Sept. 12, when a preliminary hearing had been scheduled.
Prior to the arraignment in Circuit Court last Friday, Nov. 17, where she pleaded guilty, Wasserburger was in court two days earlier as well, on Wednesday, Nov. 15, where she waived her rights for a preliminary hearing and instead used the opportunity to request a reduced bond. Her attorney, James, asked Judge Hyronimus to lower the cash needed for bail to an amount more affordable to Wasserburger and her family – somewhere in the range of $10,000 or $20,000, he said.
In regards to their request for a a lower bond, James reminded the judge that several letters had been sent to the court from supporters of Rebecca Wasserburger who described her as someone with no previous criminal charges and that she was not a danger to herself or to others. James also referred to a recent psychiatric evaluation which supported those claims. Her attorney also noted that the couple was going through divorce proceedings and that a lower bond would better allow his client an opportunity to get those affairs in order.
States Attorney Russell strongly opposed James’ request for a lower bond and called the victim, Wade Wasserburger, to the stand where he told the judge how he remains in fear for his life after Rebecca repeatedly tried to fire the handgun at him while he was in his bed that night. He said, if she were to be allowed out at a lower bond, he felt that she would try to do it again.
Judge Hyronimus agreed with the prosecution and denied the request for the lower bond, and then set the expedited date for the Nov. 17 arraignment, where the aforementioned plea agreement was ultimately established.