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Wanda Stanley was battered, expert testifies

Accused murderer had other motives, prosecutor says

Photo by Elaine Rackley: Wanda Stanley (rear) demonstrated how she shot her husband in the head, by positioning Henry County Assistant District Attorney Sandi Rivers’ head, as a stand-in for her husband, John Stanley’s head.

Photo by Elaine Rackley: Wanda Stanley (rear) demonstrated how she shot her husband in the head, by positioning Henry County Assistant District Attorney Sandi Rivers’ head, as a stand-in for her husband, John Stanley’s head.

Closing arguments are expected, Monday, in the murder trial of Wanda Stanley in Henry County Superior Court.

The former medical technician has admitted to killing her husband, John Stanley, Sr., after almost two decades of alleged verbal and violent, spousal abuse. She has testified it began in New York, and continued at their home in Georgia.

Prosecutors, led by Henry County Senior Assistant District Attorney Jim Wright, have put forth a case of malice murder. They have produced police testimony citing discrepancies in what Stanley said after she killed her husband. The 45-year-old trucker and boxer was found dead in his SUV, in College Park, on Dec. 26, 2008.

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Photo by Elaine Rackley: Dr. Marti Loring, director of the Center of Mental Health, testified, Friday, that Wanda Stanley suffers from Battered Women’s Syndrome. Stanley is on trial for murder in the shooting death of her husband.

Wanda Stanley testified that, the night she fatally shot her husband, he was trying to force her to have sex with him, and wanted a woman from a strip club to join them. She said she shot him when he stopped to consume cocaine.

In testimony Friday, Dr. Marti Loring, a licensed clinical social worker, who is a court-certified trauma expert, testified that Wanda Stanley displayed the characteristics of battered-women’s syndrome. Loring told jurors she exhibited a sense of “learned helplessness,” and was involved in a cycle of violence with John Stanley.

“I think her helplessness came from a number of sources,” said Loring. “One is that she has battered women’s syndrome, and ... she had some helplessness that she was in jail, away from her children.”

Further, Loring said the Locust Grove mother also exhibited hopelessness about John Stanley’s refusal to change his violent behavior. She told the court she reached her conclusion after interviewing Stanley, her children, sisters, mother, co-workers, New York police officers, and a nurse at the Henry County Jail.

Loring was questioned, during cross-examination, by prosecutor Wright, about Wanda Stanley’s testimony of having been raped by John Stanley. “Isn’t it true that there is no independent evidence, other than what the defendant has told you happened, to corroborate whether, or not, this defendant was subjected to multiple rapes, or having sex without her consent?” asked Wright.

“I interviewed her daughter ... who described an incident in which she heard her mother, she felt, being beaten,” said Loring. “She said she heard sex sounds in the bedroom, and her mother saying ‘no, no, please stop.’ There was no question that was unwanted sexual activity, or rape.”

Earlier in the trial, prosecutors challenged Wanda Stanley’s motive for the shooting. Her husband had received a $600,000 settlement check for an injury he sustained in New York, as a truck driver. “Wanda, did you kill your husband for money?” asked Jennifer Lewis, a Henry County assistant public defender.

“No. I would have killed him in New York when he had more money,” replied Stanley. She said her husband had $150,000 remaining in his bank account from the settlement. She told jurors he had to repay $100,000 and used other money to build a gym at their Henry County home.

In other action Friday, Wanda Stanley demonstrated, for the court, how she shot her husband in the back of the head. Afterward, she said, she wanted to make it appear as though he had been robbed, so she took his credit cards and cell phone.