Woman, 85, kills gunman and survives after he shot her multiple times

Police tape marks off the scene of a car crash.
Police tape marks off the scene of a car crash. | Tony Webster/WIkimedia Commons

Christine Jenneiahn, a gutsy 85-year-old mother who killed a gunman who invaded her home and survived despite being shot multiple times, will not be prosecuted for defending herself and her disabled son, officials said.

In a statement released Tuesday, Bingham County Prosecutor Ryan Jolley ruled the killing of the 39-year-old gunman, Derek Ephriam Condon of Blackfoot, a justifiable homicide under Idaho state law.

“The law in Idaho regarding self-defense is clear under Idaho Code section 19-202A. ‘No person in this state shall be placed in legal jeopardy of any kind whatsoever for protecting himself ... ’ In addition, an individual acting in self-defense is not required to ‘wait until he or she ascertains whether the danger is apparent or real,’ and ‘need not retreat from any place that person has a right to be,’” Jolley wrote. “‘A person may stand his ground and defend himself or another person by the use of all force and means which would appear to be necessary to a reasonable person in a similar situation and with similar knowledge without the benefit of hindsight.’” 

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According to a statement of the facts in the case, Jenneiahn was asleep in her home in Bingham County, where she lives with her disabled son, David Jenneiahn, when she was “woken up by an unknown man, later identified as Derek Condon” at around 2 a.m.

The late Derek Ephriam Condon of Blackfoot, Idaho, was 39 at the time of his death.
The late Derek Ephriam Condon of Blackfoot, Idaho, was 39 at the time of his death. | Facebook/Bingham County Sheriff's Office

Condon was reportedly dressed in a military jacket, black ski mask, and was pointing a gun and flashlight at her. The gunman then handcuffed the 85-year-old woman to a wooden chair inside her living room. She said Condon hit her on the head at some point during the home invasion but she couldn't recall exactly when.

“Condon then asked her where the valuables were kept in the home, and placed his pistol against her head after she told him she didn’t have much. After telling Condon that there were two safes downstairs in the home, he left her handcuffed in the living room and went downstairs multiple times and rummaged through several rooms in the house,” Jolley’s statement said.

When Condon learned that Christine’s disabled son was also inside the home, he allegedly became angry with her and started threatening her life.

“He also made numerous threats to Christine telling her that he would kill her,” Jolley said.

While Condon was busy going through the woman’s belongings in the downstairs level of the home, she told investigators that she pulled the chair to which she was handcuffed into her bedroom and retrieved a 357-magnum revolver she kept under her pillow.

She then returned to where Condon had left her and hid the gun between the arm rest and cushion of a couch next to where she was seated.

When Condon returned to the living room, Christine Jenneiahn said Condon made further threats against her life and that’s when she decided it was “now or never.”

She brandished her 357 magnum and “engaged Condon striking him with both her shots.”

“Condon returned fire and emptied a 9mm pistol into Christine striking her multiple times in her abdomen, leg, arms, and chest. Condon then went to the adjoining kitchen where he died from his wounds,” Jolley said.

The elderly woman fell to the floor of her home and remained handcuffed to the chair for approximately 10 hours.

Her disabled son eventually came upstairs later in the morning and gave her a phone to call 911.

“Deputies responded immediately at approximately 12:17 p.m. and provided lifesaving measures to her,” Jolley said.

In an interview with Local News 8, Jolley said Condon had previously interacted with Jenneiahn at her former pawn shop and gun range, and likely targeted her.

"Based on some of the statements from her brother, as well as what we know from the scene, it appears that he picked her specifically because he knew her and knew that she likely would have valuables in her home," Jolley told the news outlet.

In his assessment of the case, Jolley called the brave mother who stood up to her attacker “heroic.”

“This case presents an easy analysis of self-defense and justifiable homicide. It also presents one of the most heroic acts of self-preservation I have heard of. Condon was still in the act of his violent home invasion when Christine chose to engage him with deadly force,” Jolley said.

“That Christine survived this encounter is truly incredible. Her grit, determination, and will to live appear to be what saved her that night. Absent a clear attempt by Condon to retreat from the residence or surrender,” he added. “Christine was justified in taking any and all means necessary to defend herself and her son that night.”

Contact: Follow Leonardo Blair on Twitter: @leoblair Follow Leonardo Blair on Facebook: LeoBlairChristianPost

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