A man charged with killing his wife sayshe was awakened by a shot and realized he was holding the gun she kept in their waterbed for protection.

The slaying may well have been accidental, said Butler County Coroner William Young.Michael T. Ricksgers, 37, of Buffalo Township said he and his wife, Janet, had gone to bed peacefully after enjoying Christmas Day with relatives, Young said.

Ricksgers said he woke up about an hour later and discovered that his wife had been shot in the back. He called for an ambulance twice.

Janet Ricksgers, 31, kept the gun in their bed to protect herself and their two young sons when her husband worked at night, Young said.

Ricksgers was jailed on a charge of criminal homicide.

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Young said he believed the gun was flat on the bed when it was fired, and the shooting may have been accidental.

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