SPARTANBURG — Christina Adams suffered years of abuse at her boyfriends hands, her defense attorney said, making her so desperate that she shot him to death while he was in the bathroom.
Michael Howe, a York attorney, was defenseless in his boxer shorts when the cold-blooded Adams emptied a .45 caliber gun into him after dinner, and then ran, a prosecutor said.
On Thursday, Circuit Court Judge Mark Hayes said he will have to take all arguments under advisement before he rules on whether Adams second attempt at making bond is successful.
Before the hearing a motion by defense lawyers to reconsider a previous bond decision Adams waited in a Spartanburg courtroom that seated her just feet from Howes family. Her wrists and ankles shackled, she laughed with her family members and discussed collecting live ducks and The Dukes of Hazzard.
Howes family sat in silence, except for the occasional whisper.
On Oct. 10, 2011, police found Michael Howe, 44, shot to death in the Smith Street home the couple shared after Adams' friend, Daniel Martin, and Adams' daughter went to the police station to report the killing.
Adams, who initially dropped the gun and fled, told police she shot Howe after "he hit me," according to a police report. Police charged Adams with murder and possession of a weapon during a violent crime.
Since then, the case has lingered in court, and Adams has been in jail for nearly two years. Thats because the defense has fought a battle with the state for discovery, the process whereby prosecutors share with the defense evidence and information police gathered in an investigation, and vice versa, said Amy Sikora, Adams public defender.
Defense lawyers received the last of all the materials they requested Wednesday afternoon and abandoned a motion to compel discovery, Sikora said.
Had we been given stuff in a timely fashion, the case possibly would have been tried by now, she said.
Greg Voigt, the Charleston solicitor prosecuting Adams, called Sikoras claims about discovery balderdash. He said the defense received all pertinent information 60 days after Howes death. He added that defense lawyers requested items, such as Howes computers which contain personal pictures, emails and work-related documents, that were irrelevant to the case.
A key witness for the defense, a social worker meant to testify about battered woman syndrome, had been diagnosed with cancer and physically unable to prepare, creating a longer delay, he said.
Last February, a magistrate upheld Adams murder charge during a preliminary hearing. Magistrates cannot set bond for a murder charge. A subsequent Circuit Court bond hearing was canceled by the defense because both the defense and prosecutors did not enough information from discovery to proceed, Sikora said.
York County judges recused themselves from the case because of their past dealings with Howes mother, Mary Micky Howe, who worked in the court system for many years.
Sixteenth Circuit Solicitor Kevin Brackett recused himself from prosecuting the case for similar reasons, and handed the case to the Charleston County Solicitors Office.
The process stalled even more because getting an out-of-town judge and solicitor in the same courtroom at one time is not easy, Voigt said.
A bond hearing was finally held last December, when a judge denied bond for Adams under the condition that she would go to trial by March. If the case failed to make it on the docket by then, she could ask for bond again.
Christina Adams spent all of her life in York County, living with a family of limited financial means, Sikora said, and raised by her grandparents.
Adams, 29, is mother to a 12-year-old girl who has not seen her in 18 months, Sikora said. Shes worked jobs at Papa Johns, has DUI and cocaine possession charges in her criminal past and has a large friend base, Sikora said.
For more than two years, she and Howe were a couple. According to Adams, they were engaged.
Still, Adams feared Howe, a gun enthusiast who kept firearms strapped to the headboard of their bed, and an expert in systema, a Russian martial art blending hand-to-hand combat with knife-fighting and firearms training, Sikora has said.
She is a woman who felt she was in a desperate situation, Sikora said.
Voigt argued that Adams cold-blooded actions make her dangerous. A witness police interviewed said Adams lied about Howes abuse, he said, and another witness said Adams practiced shooting on his farm in case she had to shoot her boyfriend.
Sikora countered, saying that the witness, interviewed in March, gave a statement to police claiming both Howe and Adams used his farm for shooting, and he was unsure if Adams was joking or referring to a past boyfriend.
An ankle monitor is not the ... barrier Id like to keep between this woman and York County, Voigt said. A beeping light on someones switchboard will not stop Adams if she decides to kill again. Adams behind barbed wire and cinderblocked in will, he said.
I felt emotional as I sat and watched Chrissy turn around and talk and laugh and speak to her family, said Howes mother, Mary Micky Howe. Then, I look ahead and all I see is an empty chair.
Mary Howe called her son dependable, the person family members turned to for help. He built a metal barrier around his fathers favorite pecan tree to keep out squirrels. The barrier is still standing, Mary Howe said.
I dont hate Chrissy I cant, its not in me, she said, but I dont want to see Chrissy released. Our family is so close. When you hurt one of us, you hurt all of us.
That includes Norman Guthrie, Howes uncle, who told the judge that the pain of Howes loss has been unbearable for the family.
Sikora handed Judge Hayes a letter from Adams mother, Teresa Stroupe, who declined to comment after the hearing along with other family members who did not speak in court as planned.
Judge Hayes said he would speak with court administration before he makes a decision about Adams bond. An order could be mailed to both parties within the next two weeks.
After the hearing, a jail guard led Adams out the courthouse for her return to jail. She walked quickly and politely smiled when she said, No comment.
Jonathan McFadden • 803-329-4082