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Thursday, June 17, 2010

[MI] Slain Trooper Holbrook's wife plans to use defense that she feared that she'd be killed


...Attorney Jesse Williams read this prayer/poem at a recent court hearing. It was apparently written by [Michigan State Police sergeant] Melvin Holbrook: "All the evil of my demented sexual thoughts and act I cast out...  A twisted act of the Devil...  I've hurt my wife so badly...  Cleanse me of my wickedness"...

Previous posts:
STATE TROOPER MURDER TRIAL: THE 'BATTERED WOMAN DEFENSE'
Interlochen Public Radio
By Eric VanDussen
06/14/2010
[Excerpts] Last August, a Michigan State Police sergeant [Melvin Paul Holbrook] was shot and killed in his Benzie County home. The trooper's wife [Joni Holbrook] was charged with his murder, and... Joni Holbrook's attorneys do not dispute she is responsible for her husband's death... Holbrook's attorneys claim her actions were justified because they prevented her death. This is not a typical self-defense argument in a homicide case. It's more analogous to preemptive war doctrine, where an attack may be justified because you are threatened. If allowed, Joni Holbrook is expected to take the stand and testify that her husband assaulted her and raped her for years. She also claims he'd strangle her. The legal term for this kind of defense is battered wife syndrome... "Battered Woman Syndrome was coined in 1984 by Dr. Lenore Walker and has several components to it," [Michigan State University's Safe Place Director Holly] Rosen says. "Learned helplessness is one concept, and the cycle of violence is another.  Learned Helplessness is when somebody feels that all avenues of escape are closed off, that there's nowhere for them to go and they feel terror, isolation and powerlessness from the ongoing abuse... People who are making decisions about domestic violence homicides need all the information," she says. "They need to understand what went on, not just at that incident.  We shouldn't be focusing on just that one incident, because that's not what it's about. With domestic violence, what we have is intra-traumatic stress which is ongoing every day.  There's coercion every day. It's ongoing.  There is no clean event that begins, and ends and that's why battered woman syndrome alone, without explaining other factors, is not a sufficient thing to present to a jury.  They really need more information"... It will be up to the court to decide how much information to allow into the trial. Holbrook's attorney claims lots of pornographic material depicting rape and torture was discovered on her husband's personal computer. Attorney Jesse Williams read this prayer/poem at a recent court hearing. It was apparently written by Melvin Holbrook: "All the evil of my demented sexual thoughts and act I cast out...  A twisted act of the Devil...  I've hurt my wife so badly...  Cleanse me of my wickedness." Circuit court Judge James Batzer so far has agreed to allow an expert witness to explain battered wife syndrome to the jury at trial. But Batzer says the court cannot allow anyone to evaluate Holbrook and tell the jury that she actually suffers from the condition... Benzie County's prosecutor, John Daugherty, has asked the judge to throw out the entire defense. He calls such expert testimony unreliable.... He's expected to call witnesses' and relatives of Melvin Holbrook who describe him as a gentleman who wouldn't hurt anyone. Joni Holbrook's murder trial is scheduled to commence July 7th. [Full article here]
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