A woman accused of murdering her husband, said the man beat her and her children on numerous occasions, in the years leading up to his death.
The defendant, Wanda Stanley, testified in a pre-trial hearing, Wednesday. She is accused of killing her 45-year-old husband, John Stanley, in December of 2008. His body was found in his vehicle, in College Park, on Dec. 26, that year.
Wanda Stanley is charged with malice murder and felony murder
Amid tears and a shaking voice, Stanley, 41, of Locust Grove, said John Stanley abused her “constantly,” in incidents dating back to 1996. She also said she was raped by her late husband.
The defendant said her husband choked her repeatedly, and beat her with punches and kicks, as well as with such items as a boxing trophy and a mop stick. The latter incident, she said, resulted in a miscarriage.
“I didn’t even know I was pregnant,” she said. She added that John Stanley also threatened, on two separate occasions, to hit her with a hammer. “Any little thing I did would trigger him,” she said.
Henry County Public Defender Gary Bowman, who is representing Wanda Stanley, is arguing a battered-woman defense for his client. He said Wednesday’s hearing would determine whether a jury could hear testimony of John Stanley’s prior acts of violence toward Wanda Stanley, and others.
“In a battered-woman case, you can present evidence that the victim ... committed assaults or abuse on third parties,” said Bowman. “But, you have to have a ... hearing to see if the battered-woman issues, and the abuse for the third party, are related to the incident that we’re here for. So, we have to have a hearing ...”
Stanley’s 16-year-old son took the stand on his mother’s behalf, and corroborated earlier statements made by his older sister about past abuse by John Stanley toward the defendant, his sister, and the boy himself.
“He would choke her and slap her, and call her names,” the son said. “He dragged me out of the bed, threw me down the stairs, and kicked me because of an incident that happened at school.”
The son said John Stanley also once hit him with a metal broomstick, and crashed a car into Wanda Stanley’s vehicle, while she and the boy were still inside it.
Wanda Stanley’s sister, Monique Goodman, also testified. She said John Stanley was sometimes violent with her, and she worried he would kill her sister.
Jury selection in the trial is expected to begin, Thursday, in the courtroom of Superior Court Judge Brian Amero. The hearing to decide whether to allow alleged third-party abuse witnesses to testify will resume, Friday.