JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A father came face-to-face Tuesday with the man accused of shooting both his daughters, killing one of them.
Chad Absher, 32, pleaded not guilty to murder, attempted murder, possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, DUI and other charges. He is accused of fatally shooting his ex-girlfriend, Ashlee Rucker, and injuring her sister, Lisa, early Halloween morning in their Hyde Park condominium.
The women's father, Roger Rucker, was among the family members who were in courtroom for Absher's arraignment. It was hard for them to put into words just how difficult it was for them to make eye contact with the man accused of killing Ashlee and nearly taking the life of Lisa. But they want Absher to know they will be in court every step of the way to make sure justice is served.
"It's a hard road to follow, I can tell you that," Roger Rucker said.
"Yeah, it was very hard. It was very hard seeing him," Roger Rucker's girlfriend, Kim Braddock, said. "But right now, this is for the girls to keep their names out there -- Ashlee Rucker Lisa Rucker. This is for many other women that are going through the same thing. We want to keep the awareness going and we’re going to do what we can to do that."
Braddock had her fingernails painted purple, the color of domestic violence awareness.
Abser’s father, William Absher, was also in the courtroom. He said his son is innocent and that this is hard for both families. He said his son was attacked by the sisters and that he’s being made out to be a monster that he’s not.
According to Absher's arrest warrant, Lisa and Ashlee's sons were both in the condominium during the shooting, also identified Absher as the shooter. The boys, ages 5 and 8, were not hurt, family said.
Lisa Rucker was severely injured in the shooting, but she was released from the hospital after about two weeks. Her family said she is starting to walk again and getting better every day.
"The worst part is not having my sister, because I know she would be right here to help me through all of this," Lisa Rucker told News4Jax earlier this month."
Absher, who goes by “Tee,” was the subject of a two-day manhunt by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office before he surrendered to police after a brief standoff wth SWAT officers at a home on 118th Street near Blanding Boulevard.
Absher was arrested in 2006 for stalking a previous ex-girlfriend. He pleaded guilty and served three years in prison. That woman and another woman with the same last name both obtained domestic violence injunctions against him.
Absher appeared in court Tuesday wearing an orange jumpsuit, which tells corrections officers and others he is considered a high risk to himself and others. Absher was subject to a DNA swab before leaving the courtroom.
Absher is due back in court Jan. 3.