I first heard about Clifford Evans' murder when a Fox News reporter from Denver, Colorado, called me on April 15, 2006. His wife, Debra, had stabbed him to death and if you Google on Debra Evans you'll find a few brief notes, e.g., the Rocky Mountain News gives it a few short paragraphs. Typical when a woman kills a man.
What isn't mentioned is that Debra Evans, aka Debrah Wellington, had two prior domestic violence convictions, one in 2001 and another as far back as 1990. Presumably the 2001 conviction required her to take the standard 36-week DV treatment program. But perhaps she was one of the 50% of convicted offenders who never complete the program because it certainly didn't change her behavior.
According to the Fox News reporter the neighbors in the apartment building had become inured to the couple fighting, and that Clifford was always the victim. By any definition, Debra Evans is a "batterer" but you'll never find that out from the press. It hasn't gone to trial yet but my guess is she will be the "battered woman" then.
But imagine if Clifford had a couple of prior DV convictions and then killed Debra? Front page, above the fold coverage would be the norm. But since Debra is the killer the case can be buried by the press. Ironically, the Fox News reporter asked me why we don't hear more about such murders?
There is no doubt that his wife, Donna, hired two men to gun down this Pueblo Colorado police officer in the driveway of his Avondale home in December 1985. The two men testified Donna Yaklich hired them to kill her husband in exchange for $45,000 in insurance money. In 1988 she was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
One might think "case closed" and if a man had hired his police-officer wife killed all this would be ancient history. But in a now familiar pattern she pled "battered woman" and Dr. Lenore Walker's "expert" testimony was offered at trial. Donna's story was also featured in a 1994 made-for-TV movie Cries Unheard (tears please).
After serving 18 years of her sentence Donna Yaklich was granted parole in October 2005 and sent to the Arapahoe County Residential Center on February 3, 2006. She is to meet the parole board again in July 2006 and is campaigning for complete freedom by, guess what, blaming the victim.
After bearing him three children, Dennis Yaklich's first wife, Barbara, died on Valentine's Day in 1977, at age 31, apparently from a reaction to a diet drug according to the original coroner's report. But Donna still figured she could claim Dennis murdered Barbara and somehow got a panel to investigate. In a report issued last week the panel concluded "there was no way to determine how Barbara Yaklich died more than 29 years ago beyond that it was a 'suspicious death'" (Note that the sudden death of 31-year-old man or woman will always be considered suspicious). But don't expect these results to stop Donna from blaming the victim.
On Christmas Eve of 2002 Jennifer Lee-Renee Wend of Colorado Springs shot Michael Adamson, to death during an argument. Ms. Wend later told police she had taken methamphetamine and an unspecified anti-anxiety drug prior to the shooting.
After shooting Michael she covered his body with blankets and got a friend to help her move her belongings out of the house. Sometime later her friend bought a large rubber tub from Home Depot and put Adamson's body in it. He then put the tub and body in the back of his pickup truck and left them in a storage garage for three days. After that he drove to a field west of Interstate 25 near Exit 181 in Douglas County and stuffed Adamson's body inside a refrigerator at a dumping ground in Castle Rock.
On January 17, 2003, Jennifer's friend led police to Adamson's body in the refrigerator, among tires, metal scraps, wood and other items in a ditch that has been turned into a dump site in a pasture. Ms. Wend was arrested later that day on first-degree murder charges.
Jennifer Wend was convicted of second-degree murder in September, 2003. On November 17, 2003, she was sentenced to 36 years in prison. Her public defender argued for leniency because she was raised by an alcoholic single mother, dropped out of school in the seventh grade, and turned to using and dealing drugs because she had no other skills. I'm sure you will all agree those are very good excuses for killing a man!
In the appeal, Wend's lawyers argued that jury instructions prevented jurors from considering whether she was provoked. The appeals court agreed the instructions were confusing and contradictory. "We cannot say with any fair assurance that the error did not substantially influence the verdict or impair the fairness of the trial," the ruling said.
Lets see, she confessed. She was high on drugs (meth and something else), and she covered up the crime with the help of a friend. If she was "provoked" why didn't Jennifer report it? Again, it's easier to blame the victim.
I didn't find this in the newspapers at all at the time and a Google search doesn't turn up anything now. But according to court records on February 26, 2005, Aurora Colorado police officers responded to a call at 1 AM involving an assault at a residence on South Salem Street. The officers were advised that a male had been stabbed by a female who had fled.
Officers located Andrea Humphrey, age 19, a few blocks away. Ms. Humphrey was bleeding and a trail of blood was traced from where she was caught back to the Salem Street residence where the victim, Jason Johnson, was found dead in the kitchen from a single stab wound to his chest. Apparently during the altercation Ms. Humphrey had been beaten and hit her head against a counter. She also had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.104 after being taken into custody.
Ms. Humphrey was subsequently charged with first-degree murder with extreme indifference and felony menacing with a weapon. After receiving medical treatment and being read, and signing a statement acknowledging she understood her Miranda rights to remain silent and have an attorney present, she made a confession. However, the detectives interviewing her did not immediately tell her that Jason had died. Late in the interrogation the detective informed Ms. Humphrey that Jason Johnson was dead. After that she became emotionally distraught, collapsing into tears and hysterics.
In conformance with the well-known propensity of courts to rule in accordance with emotions and feelings where females are concerned, the trial judge, Richard Turelli, granted a motion by the defense to suppress her statements made during the interrogation because she became distraught after learning she had killed a man. What are the chances of a judge ruling a man's confession can't be used because he collapsed into "tears and hysterics"?
As the prosecution obviously relied heavily on her confession, they appealed. On April 17, 2006, in case 05 SA 364 the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that Ms. Humphrey's statements prior to being told she had murdered a man were admissible but after she became emotionally distraught they were not.
So if you can't blame the victim then the Colorado Supreme Court has ruled that your confession can't be used once you've collapsed into tears and hysterics, even if you've been read your Miranda rights and signed a statement acknowledging that you understand those rights.
But maybe we just haven't waited long enough for her to blame the victim? Andrea Humphrey's case hasn't yet gone to trial and it appears she and Jason were co-combatants. Of course there isn't the remotest possibility he was trying to defend himself, rather than the reverse, despite the prosecution filing charges of first-degree murder with extreme indifference after their investigation. As this case is in Lenore Walker's home territory a "battered woman" defense seems made to order.
With a population of about 4.5 million and no cities with much more than 0.5 million residents, Colorado is a relatively small state with regard to population. Yet above are four current cases of murder where there is basically no doubt the woman killed a man. In each case every effort has been made to excuse the woman's extreme violence. A much larger sample of female domestic violence murders in Colorado can be found at dvmen.org and in most other states at ejfi.org/DV/dv-45.htm. Clearly such murders are not isolated or rare incidents.
Though it has been clear for some time that the courts rule on the basis of emotions and feelings, now the Colorado Supreme Court has ruled that tears and hysterics are sufficient to invalidate a confession.
It seems obvious our courts are drifting ever further away from equal justice, and likely any justice as we continue to receive numerous <http://www.dvmen.org/dv-120.htm>horror stories from women as well.
The only "good" news in all this is that the court demographics for 2005 show that both the number and rate of protection orders and domestic violence cases in Colorado has been dropping for two years. Reported police incidents of domestic violence are remaining constant but there are still twice as many DV court cases as police incidents. The only apparent explanation for the drop in court cases is that people have become afraid to call the police in domestic disputes.