Daughters of shooting victim say signs were everywhere - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Daughters of shooting victim say signs were everywhere

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) – The daughters of a woman gunned down in the Gaslamp Quarter over the weekend came forward on Tuesday to tell their side of the tragedy that led up to their mother's murder.

Deborah Gotell's daughters say they ignored their instincts when it came to their stepfather, Joseph. They say the warning signs were everywhere in the couple's relationship and their own interactions with their step-father.

"He wanted to know every aspect of her life and didn't give her much room to breathe," says daughter Tahira. "He called my phone threatening if I don't bring her back, he's going to get me."

83-year-old Joseph Gotell is accused of fatally shooting his 57-year-old wife in the Gaslamp Quarter on Saturday, where she was taking care of her mother, who is in hospice.

The couple had recently separated, but family members say Joseph was possessive and hunted Deborah down. Her daughters say they didn't expect the turmoil to get to this level of violence.

"I feel we underestimated verbal and psychological abuse," says daughter Jael. "We didn't believe it would escalate to that point."

Deborah's children say their mother always saw the good in people and felt obligated to help Joseph in his old age. But unlike her older sisters, Nefera Croom had harsher words for her step-father.

"He's a monster and I don't forgive him," she sobbed at a news conference on Tuesday night. "Why did you do this?"

Croom says she tried to gently intervene several months ago after witnessing Joseph peppering her mother with insults, accusations, and threats.

"I'd be like ‘Mom, you don't need this.' You know, definitely conveying to her that ‘you don't have to feel obligated to be with someone who is not going to respect and appreciate you,'" Croom says.

The three women admit they're now battling feelings of regret, guilt, and anger. But they say they want their mother's tragic death to serve as an important wake-up call to other women who are choosing to stay in an abusive relationship.

"There's a lot of Josephs and Deborahs out there right now and if you know any of them, intervene."

If you or someone you know needs help or information about domestic violence, YWCA of San Diego County can help. Go to http://www.ywcasandiego.org or call 619-239-0355.

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