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Murder charge certified in Huddleston shooting

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By Tom Wilmoth

    It was supposed to be a fistfight, but it turned into a shootout that left one woman dead and another man charged with first degree murder in her death.

    On Monday, that murder charge against Michael Thomas Loboschefski of Huddleston was certified to circuit court following a preliminary hearing before Judge Harold Black in general district court. Black also certified charges of malicious wounding and two counts of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony against Loboschefski.
    During three hours  of  testimony  Monday, several witnesses testified about how they ended up at the scene of the Aug. 11 shooting at  Loboschefski’s home, including Joshua Hughes who was also shot  at the incident which occurred late. that Thursday evening.
    The accounts of the incident have been conflicting from the start, depending on which group is telling its side of the story.
    Hughes said he was driving one of the two cars, a green Mustang convertible, filled with friends heading from Amherst County to Bedford County for the fight. A total of seven people, including three traveling in a green Dodge Neon, made the trip, looking for Dustin Phelps. According to testimony Monday, Phelps and his girlfriend had broken into the Amherst County home of Alice Hutton, threatening her with homemade brass knuckles.
    Hutton, her boyfriend, James Mason, and friend Robert Loving were traveling in the Dodge Neon; Hughes, his brother Michael, and sisters Heather Gallier and Audrey Michelle Bryan were in the Mustang, according to testimony Monday.
    Hughes said that Phelps and his girlfriend had “invited us up” to the Huddleston home for the fight. The parties were texting back and forth and the Amherst County group received directions to the Johnson Mountain Road home from them.
    Hughes testified he brought a shotgun from Gallier’s home. “I had a bad feeling,” he said of taking the gun. “I knew Dustin carried weapons.”
    After initially failing to find the home, Hughes testified they backtracked and found it. He said he got out of the car and “started hearing shots going off.” He said he fired the shotgun four times up in the air.
    He said he was struck in his leg, dropped the shotgun, jumped back in the Mustang and took off. At the time, according to testimony, Bryan was laying down in the backseat of the car. The Mustang was struck by another car, just down the road, and Hughes said he initially thought Bryan had been injured in the accident. Instead, the 25-year-old Bryan had been shot in the head.
    Gallier called the Mustang her “dream car” and she went along with the others to “go riding.”
    “I didn’t know where we were going,” she said.
    Through tears, she described discovering that her sister had been shot, noticing blood that was coming out of her nose. “That was supposed to be my seat,” she said through her tears, referring to where her sister was sitting in the car when she was shot.
    With the Mustang wrecked in the accident, Gallier said her sister was moved to the Neon to be taken to the hospital. She said she learned about Bryan’s death when questioned by police.
    Phelps also testified Monday, stating he was at the home when the two cars arrived. “I was walking down the driveway,” he said. “I figured I was going to get into a fight.”
    Instead, shots started being fired and Phelps said he “turned around and ran into the woods.”
    Phelps said he was at the home because he was supposed to be getting a tattoo there.
    Investigators with the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office testified they found three shotgun shells and 11 casings from a .22-caliber firearm at the scene of the shooting. They also testified that bullet hole damage was found in both the Dodge Neon and Mustang.
    Hutton testified that Phelps had told them to go to Huddleston for the fight. “It ended up being a gun battle as soon as we got there,” she said. “There were bullets flying everywhere.” Hutton said she had gone to fight Phelps’ girlfriend while her boyfriend, James Mason, had gone to fight Phelps.
    Loboschefski is expected to make a self-defense claim, if indicted on the charges in circuit court. That’s what he told investigators at the scene, claiming he only fired after two men came up his driveway firing their guns. Judge Black said a jury will have to decide whether Loboschefski’s actions were in self-defense.
     Loboschefski remains free on bond.