“Battered woman” defense fails Gwinnett woman convicted of murder

A Gwinnett County jury convicted a battered woman of murder for killing her abusive longtime partner who had once put a gun to her head.

But in this case the “battered woman” defense had tall hurdles to clear. Tiquonda Campbell Williams testified she stabbed Tyress Malcome during an emotional fight in which she had more anger than fear, said prosecutor Nigel Lush.

“When asked why she did that, she said, ‘We were still arguing, and I wanted to make my point,’” Lush said. “Obviously he had a history of violence and actually I think that history went both ways and I think that is why the jury rejected the battered person argument.”

The turbulence of Williams’ and Malcome’s decade-long relationship was displayed in a trial lasting more than a week until a jury of eight women and four men found Williams guilty of murder Monday. Superior Court Judge R. Timothy Hamil sentenced her to life in prison.

She declined a plea offer of 10-years to serve in prison for manslaughter, said defense attorney Musa Ghanayem.

“We think an acquittal would have served justice,” Ghanayem said. “She is an abused woman. She really believed in the defense.”

The different episodes of abuse from Malcome involved being struck and threatened with a gun, being choked unconscious, being thrown down during a pregnancy, damaging her uterus, Ghanayem said.

Malcome, 32, was on probation for threatening Williams by putting a gun to her head in 2008 when he returned home at 3 a.m. on May, 22, 2011 with a friend. There he was met by Williams, whose journal entry penned an hour before his arrival at the apartment depicted her fury.

She stabbed his arm during the ensuing fight — she threw a can of spray paint at him, he hit her — and he left for a friend’s house bleeding, unaware a major artery had been cut, lawyers said. There an ambulance was called, and he was pronounced dead an hour later at Atlanta Medical Center.

“There are just a lot of factors that went into the sad death of Mr. Malcome,” Ghanayem said.

Even the 2008 gun charge wasn’t a clear cut case of one-sided abuse, said Lush. It was the one case documented by police after neighbors called 911 on hearing the ruckus next door.

“She slugged him — his eye was swollen shut and he had scratches on the face — but regardless he escalated and pulled a gun out on her,” Lush said. “It was a toxic relationship.”