On April 19, Alaska police responding to a 911 call discovered the bodies of a young couple in an Anchorage apartment.
They quickly rushed 22-year-old Brittany-Mae Haag — who had a gunshot wound to the chest — and her 21-year-old boyfriend Victor Sibson — who had a gunshot wound to the head — to the hospital, where Haag died soon after.
Though authorities had initially suspected that Sibson, who had a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit, shot his girlfriend before turning the gun on himself, they ultimately only recovered one bullet and shell casing from the scene.
As KTVA reports, it was then that investigators came up with a new theory about what happened that day — that, in a suicide attempt, “a single shot traveled through Sibson’s skull and into Haag’s chest as she tried to save him.”
Prosecutors now believe that Sibson, in an effort to kill himself, fired a round into the left side of his head that then exited out the top of his skull.
When Haag moved to stop him, however, the bullet entered under her right armpit, piercing her vital organs and ultimately killing her.
For Haag's mother, Sheila Lopez, the details have made the tragedy even more painful:
"I was hurt because Victor has been part of our family. He called me mom. [...]
Knowing my daughter, I would do the same thing, too. If someone was trying to kill them self, I would go and try to stop them, and I know that that’s what she would do. So, now it makes sense to me."
Incredibly, and despite the fact that a bullet passed through his brain, doctors were able to save Sibson's life.
Noting bluntly that they did not arrest Sibson in the hospital because “there was substantial doubt” that he would survive the head wound, the 21-year-old managed to evade law enforcement for the next month, eventually turning himself in on May 19.
Sitting in court on Sunday with a helmet to cover his head wounds and facing a charge of second-degree murder, Sibson reportedly refused to enter a plea, instead, asking the judge, “Could we figure out if I'm guilty or not today?”
After declaring a $250,000 bond, the judge entered a not guilty plea on Sibson's behalf.
The families of both Sibson and Haag were present in the courtroom, with Haag's sister noting that they two had “always seemed happy ... there was no greater love than what they had.”
Sibson, who says he still can't remember the details of the shooting, faces up to 99 years in prison if convicted.