Ex-Marine shot in the face regains custody of son

By P. Soloman Banda


DENVER—A former Marine shot in the face three times by his now ex-wife has been reunited with his 7-year-old son, years after shootings that blinded the Colorado man and killed his mother.

Last week, an Arapahoe County judge ordered the termination of a guardianship involving Peter Spitz’s son, Asher, after the guardians allowed Spitz’s ex-wife, Teresa Lynn, overnight visits. The ex-guardians, Donald and Sheila Reynolds of Aurora, Colo., were Lynn’s aunt and uncle by marriage.

Spitz’s mother, Mariko Shida, was killed in the shootings in Englewood on May 17, 2004. Lynn later was acquitted of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and assault charges by reason of insanity. She was committed to the state mental health institute in Pueblo but recently was granted more freedom, including the ability to travel to Aurora to spend time with her son every six to eight weeks.

“It’s absolute happiness. Overwhelming happiness,” Spitz said of the reunion with Asher that took place a few hours hours after District Court Judge Timothy L. Fasing granted him full custody July 27.

Spitz had periodic visits with his son since the shootings in 2004 but he said that stopped more than a year ago after a falling out with the Reynolds….

…Donald Reynolds said their involvement began in the early morning hours of the shootings when Lynn showed up at their house with Asher, clothes, money and diapers. Lynn said she had to leave because Spitz, her husband at the time, had suffered a heart attack and was in the hospital.

Instead, Spitz said that Lynn returned to their home where he was sleeping in an upstairs bedroom, placed a pillow over his head and shot him once, wounding him in the left cheek and waking him. He got shot again over his left eyebrow, popping out his left eye.

Shida, Spitz’s mom who was living with the couple, died after being shot in the back of the head and then again through the heart as she tried getting out of the house through a door leading out of the living room downstairs. As Spitz crawled around the floor in the upstairs bedroom, blinded by his wounds, he got shot once more in the temple.

Spitz, who remained conscious during the attack, said he survived because the shots from a .38-caliber handgun happened with the muzzle placed right up to his face, never allowing the hollow point bullets that are designed to shatter to reach full velocity.

Doctors placed him in a medically induced coma. When he woke up, he was blind.

With Spitz in the hospital recovering from the attack and Lynn in jail facing murder and other charges, a judge granted the Reynolds emergency guardianship of Asher in July 2004, less than two months after the shooting. Donald Reynolds said Spitz agreed to that arrangement, which had been in place until last week.

Spitz spent several months in the hospital, a rehabilitation center and a nursing home recovering from his wounds. Time with Asher was complicated by a decision Spitz now regrets that cost him family relationships: He defended his wife, arguing that she must have been mentally ill to commit such a hideous crime…

…”Knowing what I know now, I would not defend her,” Spitz said. “I wouldn’t testify against her, but I wouldn’t defend her…. What I now know of the mental health system they’re going to get out.”…

…Regular visit with Asher began in November 2005 and when he learned of the Reynolds’ plans for adoption, he petitioned the court in 2008 for full custody. That case languished in the court until Martin took his case in April…

Read more at DenverPost.com.