Pasadena woman sentenced to 25 years for fatally shooting husband Spouse abused her, she says

November 18, 1993|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Staff Writer

A 32-year-old Pasadena woman was sentenced to 25 years in prison yesterday for fatally shooting her husband, taking a few practice shots before pumping 23 bullets into him as he lay in bed.

Debra Marie Young, 32, was sentenced yesterday by Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr. after a psychiatrist described Debra Young as a battered spouse driven to murder by her husband's abuse.

But Judge Thieme said that although Debra Young may have been abused, there was no evidence to show she thought she was in danger of serious bodily harm at the time of the murder, the standard for using the battered spouse defense.

"You have the testing of the gun, then the shooting that follows. Those aren't impulsive acts," the judge said.

Debra Young pleaded guilty Sept. 21 to second-degree murder in the March 21 death of her husband, Henry William Young.

Mr. Young, 42, was found dead in the bedroom of the couple's home in the first block of Margaret Avenue at 10:30 a.m.

Debra Young first told detectives that her husband was sleeping when she left the house with her three young children to do the laundry. She said someone must have entered the house and shot him while she was gone.

But she later admitted the crime and directed police to the trash bin at the Lake Shore Shopping Center, where she had dumped the handgun.

Dr. Neil Blumberg, a Timonium psychiatrist, testified yesterday that when Mr. Young's father died in 1987, the National Security Agency employee became "more withdrawn, more irritable and more angry," and began to hit his wife.

"One night he took a shotgun, demanded sex and basically raped her at gunpoint," Dr. Blumberg said.

He said Mr. Young often shouted at his wife, once put his fist through a wall and often pointed his gun at her and the children, threatening to kill them if she failed to resolve the financial problems that had put the family in bankruptcy.

Dr. Blumberg said that in spring 1990, Debra Young woke up in the middle of the night to find the muzzle of a six-shot pistol against her head. She said her husband was perched over her, spinning the chamber containing the bullets.

About a year later, she twice woke up to find a shotgun muzzle pressed against her, he said.

"She was terrified of him," Dr. Blumberg said.

Debra Young said that she missed the man she married 11 years ago, and said the abuser she shot while she was in a daze last spring was a different person.

"I'm sorry my kids will never get to know the man I fell in love with, the man I loved, the man I married," she said, nearly bursting into tears.

Under cross-examination by Assistant State's Attorney Cynthia Ferris, Dr. Blumberg acknowledged that almost all of the reports of abuse came from Debra Young after her arrest and were unsupported by any emergency room records or police reports.

"It's safe to say there was never a 911 call from that house until the day of the murder," Ms. Ferris said.

She said Debra Young had a lover, approached neighbors about killing her husband and hoped to collect on his $330,000 life insurance policy. She also test-fired the gun before the murder and had lied to the police after it, she said.

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