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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- There's no proof Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Frank Adderley's gun-wielding wife intended to kill him when she fired a bullet into the couple's bed and then chased him outdoors, the Broward State Attorney's Office said.
On Monday, prosecutors charged Eleanor Adderley, 45, with two felonies - shooting into an occupied dwelling and aggravated assault - arising from the July 8 incident at the couple's Plantation home.
The charge of shooting into an occupied dwelling can carry up to 15 years in prison, while the aggravated assault count is punishable by up to five years in prison.
Though Eleanor Adderley fired the shot near her husband while he lay in bed, there is no evidence to suggest she shot directly at him, State Attorney Michael Satz's office said in a statement.
"He was awake and positioned toward the head of the bed when the shot was fired," the statement said. "The bullet that Eleanor Adderley fired entered the mattress - not through the top but through the side of the mattress and down - at the foot of the bed."
Her husband got up and ran outside to a neighbor's house, police reports state. She fired the gun twice more outdoors, according to police reports. The neighbor - Robert McKinzie - talked her into handing over the gun.
Prosecutors concluded there was no physical evidence that could show the trajectory of the shots fired outside.
Eleanor Adderley told investigators she wasn't trying to hurt her husband, but only wanted to scare him by shooting into the bed and at the ground, police reports indicate. The couple had been fighting that day over an affair Fort Lauderdale's top cop had in late 2007, according to the reports.
Minutes after the incident, Eleanor Adderley told Robert McKinzie's wife that she had spent the hours leading up to the shooting holding the chief's gun to her own head. Eleanor Adderley said she couldn't pull the trigger because she couldn't leave her teenage son, neighbor Deberenia McKinzie told police.
Eleanor Adderley's attorney, David Bogenschutz, said Monday she is seeing a mental health counselor and "doing as well as you can expect."
For prosecutors to prove the aggravated assault charge, they will have to show Eleanor Adderley caused the police chief to fear for his safety, Bogenschutz said.
"That frankly doesn't look like what happened here," he said. "It looks like he was more concerned she would hurt herself than him."
After her arrest, questions arose within the legal community whether she received preferential treatment. Bogenschutz said charging her with attempted murder would have been "a miscarriage of justice" and counter to the facts.
The police chief has said he doesn't want to pursue charges against his wife. He helped arrange the $25,000 bond to free her from jail. He has declined to comment on the case.
Jon Burstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org 954-356-4491.