TAMARAC-- Years of tension from an ongoing divorce turned violent when a man trying to pick up his son for visitation was shot by his mother-in-law, officials said.
But Salvatore Miglino caught the alleged attack on his iPhone and gave detectives a recording of his mother-in-law calmly talking to him before suddenly revealing a gun and firing three shots, authorities said. Miglino had begun the recording sensing there would be trouble that Wednesday afternoon.
"Oh, no! I can't believe you did that!" a wounded Miglino shouts in the iPhone recording. "What are you, crazy? … I can't believe you shot me!"
Cheryl Hepner, 66, of Tamarac, was ordered held without bond Friday, a day after she was arrested on a charge of attempted first-degree murder.
Miglino, 39, of Boca Raton, who was shot in his rib cage and shoulder, was treated and released from a hospital. Doctors deemed it safer not to extract two bullets from him.
"I've been doing this for 19 years, and I've never had a client shot," said Miglino's attorney, Andrea R. Gundersen. "The fact that it got to this extreme breaks my heart."
Hepner's attorney, Michael Tenzer, questioned the allegations against Hepner in court Friday.
"It's bizarre to me how a 66-year-old woman without any other, with no priors at all, is going to come out of a house with a gun," Tenzer said. "It's also interesting to note that Mr. Miglino comes to the house expecting a problem."
Miglino married Hepner's daughter, Vicki Miglino, 37, five years ago in Broward County. But after the relationship soured two years ago, his wife moved with their son to her parents' home in the 8600 block of Northwest 57th Court, court records show.
The Miglinos have been in bitter divorce proceedings, and fought over the boy's visitation schedule, records show. But a court order authorizes the husband to take custody of the child every Wednesday night, the Broward County Sheriff's Office said.
Gundersen said Hepner previously had made false statements against her client stemming from visitations. Distrustful, Miglino grabbed his iPhone and tapped the "record" button to start filming as he attempted to pick up his son shortly after 5 p.m. Wednesday, authorities said. He did it as a "protective mechanism," Gundersen said.
Miglino's mother-in-law met him outside her house, carrying his son's pillow and bag. At the time, his son and wife were getting pizza at a nearby restaurant. Hepner encouraged Miglino to go inside the home, authorities said, telling him that her ill husband wanted to talk to him. But Hepner's husband was asleep at the time.
"It does, on the face of it, look as if she attempted to lure him perhaps in the house so there would be no witnesses to a shooting," Broward County Judge John "Jay" Hurley said Friday.
Miglino declined to go inside, instead asking Hepner for the pillow and bag. Hepner then revealed a handgun from behind the pillow, the sheriff's office said. She fired three shots, striking him two to three times, Hurley said, reading from an affidavit.
Miglino landed on top of Hepner in the front yard. The recording did not visually capture the attack, but Miglino is heard shouting in disbelief as Hepner curses and tells him to get off her. He grabbed the gun and fled in his car, Hurley said.
A .22-caliber Beretta was recovered. A spent cartridge was jammed inside the barrel.
"This man's lucky to be alive," sheriff's spokeswoman Dani Moschella said. "That audio is chilling: we're hearing what might have been his murder. Luckily, the gun jammed."
After the attack, Hepner called 911 and told investigators that Miglino had tried to shoot her. She said she knocked the gun from his hand, picked it up and shot him instead. Then Miglino provided the recording, authorities said.
Beyond the recording, investigators gathered physical evidence and witness statements, and interviewed those involved. Such evidence likely would have led investigators to the same conclusion, Moschella said. "But the recording was certainly helpful," she said.
After the shooting, Hepner filed for a restraining order Thursday againt her son-in-law. She wrote in court papers that her daughter previously had a restraining order against Miglino. Hepner said he had threatened to kill her and her husband, as well as his wife and son.
Copyright © 2011, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
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