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Police: Ohio woman killed over Easter attire

Police in Ohio say a woman shot her cousin to death during an argument that started because she didn't think the victim was dressed properly for Easter dinner.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A woman who called 911 after a fatal shooting at an Easter party told a police dispatcher she retrieved a gun to prove a point and it went off.

Evelyn Burgess, 42, is accused of shooting 19-year-old Danielle Pickens during a fight that police say started over a skimpy Easter outfit — jean shorts and a green T-shirt tied up around Pickens’ midriff.

"I just shot my niece," the woman says calmly at the beginning of the 33-second call released on Tuesday.

"I didn't mean to do it," the woman said. "We was arguing, I tried to get my gun to prove a point, they got the rifle with me and it went off."

Asked about the location of her niece, the woman says bluntly, "In the car. I think she's dead."

The woman does not give her name but calls herself the victim's aunt. Family members say Burgess was referred to as Pickens’ aunt, though she was her older second cousin.

Often wore short skirts
Police say Burgess got into a fight with Pickens over her attire, then shot her outside Burgess' house Sunday night. Pickens died at a hospital early the next day.

Family members of both women said Tuesday that Pickens' style of dressing was well-known among relatives.

Pickens often wore short skirts to the holiday gatherings hosted by Burgess, said Pickens' sister, Ralinda Pickens, and uncle, Tico Pickens.

"The way she was dressed that day is the way she always dressed, and everybody knew that," said Tico Pickens, 33. "It wasn't like she meant any harm toward nobody by doing it. It was just comfortable to her."

Burgess, 42, is charged with one count of murder. Franklin County Municipal Court Judge William Pollitt set Burgess' bond at $500,000 during a court appearance Tuesday.

Burgess didn't say anything at the hearing and doesn't have a lawyer assigned to her yet.

At her house on Tuesday, her husband, Kevin Burgess, said his wife was doing all right, but he declined to comment further.

Events escalate
Danielle, who went by Danny, once dressed like a tomboy, then one day tried on a short skirt she liked and started dressing differently.

"The first time she put on a cute little skirt, I guessed she liked it and she dressed like that ever since," said Ralinda Pickens, 20.

She says events escalated quickly at the Easter party at Burgess' house on the north side of Columbus.

Evelyn Burgess was angry at Danielle over her outfit and accused her of flaunting her looks around other men at the party, including Burgess' husband, Ralinda Pickens said.

A fight broke out with Evelyn Burgess and Danielle struggling with a baseball bat, then ended as Ralinda Pickens broke things up, got her sister outside and prepared to drive her home.

The sisters were in the car when Burgess came running up with a gun, reached inside the car, pulled Danielle by the hair and shot her as she tried to seek shelter under her older sister, Ralinda Pickens said.

Burgess then walked back inside her house, sat down on a couch, told people what had happened and waited for the police, Ralinda Pickens said.

"I never thought she would do something like that," Ralinda Pickens said Tuesday of Burgess, crying softly as she sat on the porch of her house about a five-minute drive from where the shooting happened. "Whatever anger she had built up in her nobody actually knew."

Evelyn Burgess had bought the gun from a local gun store about a year ago, Ralinda Pickens and Tico Pickens said.