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Hear the 911 call: Man charged in shooting pro-life canvasser heading to trial

At a preliminary hearing Wednesday afternoon, an Ionia County judge says there is enough evidence for a trial in the shooting from last month.

IONIA COUNTY, Mich. — At a preliminary hearing Wednesday afternoon, an Ionia County judge says there is enough evidence for a trial in the shooting of a pro-life volunteer.

Richard Harvey of Lake Odessa is charged with shooting 84-year-old Joan Jacobsen while she was canvassing last month in the area. Multiple witnesses took the stand, recounting their involvement on Sept. 20. 

The 911 call from Harvey was played in court. In the recording, dispatch asks Harvey if there's anything else he needs to tell them at the end of their call, and he says 'No, I'm sorry I shot her.'"

Harvey is charged with assault with a dangerous weapon and both careless and reckless use of a firearm.

It all started when she came to his home and spoke with his wife, Sharon. She was canvassing against Proposal 3, the ballot initiative to legalize abortion.

During her testimony, Jacobsen says her discussion with Sharon got heated, and she was asked to leave. She says she did make her way off their property, and continued to speak with her.

"What I said to [Sharon] in a very calm voice is that well, 'Yes, I do have a right to come and talk to you. You know, that I could be the mailman. I could be, you know, the FedEx guy coming up to deliver a package, that I wasn't breaking any laws by just coming up to talk to her," Jacobsen said in court.

Harvey says he could hear Sharon and someone else screaming and yelling from the barn on his property, so he rushed out and grabbed a .22 rifle. In court, an interview from Sept. 20 between Harvey and Michigan State Police Detective Sgt. Brian Siemen was played. In that recording, Harvey said he approached the two women and fired a warning shot. 

"[Jacobsen] says something about 'I have a right to be here,' and Sharon was yelling 'No, you don't,' and I say 'No you don't, leave,'" Harvey told Detective Sgt. Siemen in the recording. "She goes 'I'm not going to.' So dumb s--- me, I fired a round into the tree."

Jacobsen said she did not hear a warning shot and she only saw Harvey coming out of the corner of her eye. She said once he reached them, everything happened very quickly.

"At about the time that it registered in my brain that there was a guy there and he had a gun, I heard a shot and I felt the pain," Jacobsen said in court.

Harvey told the detective and dispatch that there was a struggle, and that's when he accidentally pulled the trigger.

"I go to knock the clipboard out of my hand before she smacks my wife," he said in the recording. When asked by Detective Sgt. Siemen if he planned on shooting Jacobsen, Harvey replied, "Oh no."

After she was shot, she drove to the police department. She was later treated at a hospital in Grand Rapids. She was hit by a bullet in her shoulder. 

A neighbor down the road provided her home surveillance video to the police.

"Because I've heard what happened, I just thought it would be beneficial if they had everything," Deborah Moras said in court. 

Detective Sgt. Siemen said while you can't see the Harvey's home in that video, shouting and two gunshots are heard in the distance.

"Sounds like there's another gunshot, it's not as distinct as the first one," he said in court. "I believe that's based on the the muzzle was blocked by the clipboard and Mrs. Jacobson absorbed that sound."

Harvey is expected to make his first Circuit Court appearance next month.

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