Hours before Meriden resident Richard West was found dead in his 76 Olive St. apartment on Feb. 3, he had gotten into a physical fight with his live-in girlfriend, Melissa Ziemba.
It started with a verbal argument, which sparked over the fact that Ziemba had a female friend over whom West didn’t like, and turned physical around 10 p.m. when West punched Ziemba in the face and grabbed her by the shirt, according her report to investigators.
This is the background account spelled out in a four-page arrest warrant obtained from Meriden Superior Court Thursday, where Ziemba appeared Thursday .
According to the warrant, Ziemba claims West actually shot himself, however police said she changed her story multiple times and prevailing evidence points to her as the culprit.
Ziemba, 42, a Middletown resident, told investigators that following that argument, West shot himself in the upper-left chest area with his 9mm Kahr Model CW9 handgun after making a statement that he “didn’t want to deal with it anymore,” the warrant stated.
According to the warrant, Ziemba decided to sleep in a spare bedroom after the pair’s fight until she heard a “pop” later and found West on the floor. She said it took her 30-45 minutes to find her phone and call her father, who came to the home and called 911.
When confronted on why she didn’t call 911 directly, Ziemba repeatedly told investigators “I don’t call the police.” She went on to say she “doesn’t want to go back to prison, when she’s a victim.”
Ziemba also is quoted in the report as telling a neighbor “I don’t want to go to jail. Rick shot himself.” While continuously denying that she was behind the shooting, police found the gun lodged between a pile of clothes and a cardboard box.
The shooting was ruled a homicide after the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner returned to police a report about how the pistol was discharged.
While West was left-handed — a fact confirmed by both Ziemba and her father — an analysis of how the gun showed it was wrapped around using a right hand.
In a final interview in the report, Ziemba told police that between 6 and 10 p.m. she “blacked out” and couldn’t remember anything because she was too intoxicated and that she normally drinks “endlessly.”
Ziemba denied shooting West throughout the entire police report. She is a convicted felon in Connecticut and has a criminal record in Colorado.
She is due in New Haven Superior Court on Sept. 11.