WATERLOO – It started with a threat to shoot the dog.
“He started fussing about the dog,” Vickie Butler told jurors Wednesday as trial started for her ex-husband, 61-year-old Michael Fristo, who is accused of shooting her in the hip during the spat that unfolded in their Belleview Road home Oct. 27, 2016.
Butler, who had been married to Fristo for about 10 months at the time of the incident, said they had just returned from a bar following Fristo’s pool league. Fristo was getting something to eat, and her German shepherd was following him, hoping to score some food.
She told jurors they began arguing, he accused her of loving the dog more than him, and the matter came to shoves and punches, and the dog started to growl in response.
“He said ‘I’ll shoot that damn dog,’” Butler said. She said he went into the basement where he kept a long gun, and Butler went upstairs to retrieve her .38-caliber Smith & Wesson revolver because she feared he was going to follow through with the threat.
She then went to the basement where she said she saw Fristo holding a shotgun pointed at her — prosecutors identified it was a rifle. She testified that she was holding her revolver with the finger out of the trigger guard and wasn’t pointing her weapon at him.
Fristo dropped his gun and made a grab for her revolver, a struggle ensued and he pulled the weapon from her grasp, Butler said.
“He pried the gun out of my hand, stood against that wall, looked me in the eye and pulled the trigger,” Butler said.
“I didn’t feel anything when the bullet hit me,” she said. “I looked down on my hip and there was a pool of blood on my hip.”
She said Fristo then simply walked out of the room.
“He didn’t say a word. He just walked away and left me there to die,” she said.
She said she crawled up two flights of stairs to her room where she called 911 and waited for police and paramedics.
Prosecutor Brad Walz said investigators determined the gun was fired at Butler from a distance of 2 to 4 feet or greater.
“This was not a hair trigger revolver. This was not a malfunctioning revolver,” Walz told jurors.
He also said Fristo didn’t attempt to help his wife or call 911.
The defense didn’t deliver an opening statement to outline its case, but defense attorney James Metcalf questioned Butler about differences in her testimony — where she said both were standing when he fired — compared to a statement she gave to police shortly after the shooting where she said Fristo was standing over her.
Fristo responded she had been in shock when she talked to police immediately after the shooting.
Court records indicate Fristo later told police the revolver went off while they were struggling over it.
The trial was scheduled to continue today in Black Hawk County District Court.