Woman convicted of killing husband Wife claimed to be battered, but is found guilty of second-degree murder

December 09, 1997|By Joan Jacobson | Joan Jacobson,SUN STAFF

Teresa Jones portrayed herself to a Baltimore County jury as a battered wife in the months before she killed her husband last year.

But the jury that convicted her Friday of second-degree murder took less than two hours of deliberation to discount her story of self-defense.

Circuit Judge Christian M. Kahl scheduled Feb. 11 for the sentencing. Jones, 31, could be sentenced to a maximum of 30 years for second-degree murder and 20 years for using a handgun in the killing.

Prosecutors had asked the jury not to believe Jones' claims of domestic violence, saying she fabricated her reports to the jury that her husband had beaten her and threatened her life.

"She's making up the abuse to justify killing Steve," said prosecutor Stephen Bailey, who depicted Jones, 31, as a jealous and unfaithful wife, and an alcoholic.

"There are hundreds and thousands of battered women in Baltimore County," Bailey said in closing arguments, adding that Jones "comes into this courtroom and mocks them."

Prosecutors had asked the jury to find Jones guilty of first-degree murder, because, they said, she acted with premeditation by loading her husband's gun and she shot him while they were arguing in his White Hall home Oct. 14, 1996.

But on the witness stand, Jones denied loading the gun, saying she found it on the floor while her husband was beating her.

Prosecutors Bailey and Jill D. Pickett called witnesses to contradict Jones' statements that, before the night of the slaying, her husband beat and choked her, waved a gun at her and was unfaithful.

During closing arguments, Jones' lawyer, Franklin Freeman, told the jury that inconsistencies or lapses in memory on Jones' part were because she is a victim of battered spouse syndrome and post-traumatic stress syndrome.

A psychologist testified that after examining Jones, she concluded the woman suffers from both syndromes.

After the verdict, Bailey said, "The jury did an excellent job with a very difficult case."

Freeman declined to comment.

Pub Date: 12/09/97

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