In July 1992, Ms. Brownlee was pregnant again. “He said, ‘I won’t have this baby,'” she said. “He slapped me.”
Then she ran away, only returning for a bag of children’s clothes, first carrying her sleeping 3-year-old to an adjoining room. He appeared behind her, and when she turned to face him, he fired. She would learn months later what happened as she lay dying.
A cousin of Mr. Irvin arrived, out of the blue, and entered a scene of bloodshed. “The house looked like the ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’,” a prosecutor later said. The cousin picked her up, took her in her car, and drove her to a hospital in Patchogue, leaving her in a wheelchair up front, where staff members found her and rushed her inside.
Later that day, police arrived at Mr. Irvin’s home. There was blood everywhere – no badge was going to make it go away. He was arrested and charged with attempted murder. The prosecutor in charge of the case, Keri Herzog, was a young deputy prosecutor from Suffolk County. She went to the hospital to check the victim’s condition.
“It was covered in tubes,” recalls Ms. Herzog. “We weren’t sure she would make it.” She brought in the grand jury foreman who sat in the hospital, along with a detective and a stenographer, to make a formal bedside statement in case she didn’t survive.
Ms. Brownlee has no recollection of this interrogation. Her first memory goes back 33 days after the shooting, when she woke up from a coma. She asked her doctor a question, dreading the answer.
“He said, ‘The baby didn’t survive,'” she said. “It was a boy. He lived two hours.
Her life as she had known it seemed over. “I was paralyzed from the waist to the feet,” she said. A series of surgeries followed: “Gallbladder, colon and vagina repair, bladder surgeries,” she said. “Partial hysterectomy. Hip.”