By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
A WOMAN on trial for her husband’s murder told the court she did not mean to kill him as she was only trying to stop him from choking her.
Jessie Williams reached for a knife her husband always kept in the car to stab the arm still around her neck. She cried over his body after he collapsed outside their jeep and called for help.
This was the testimony of the 45-year-old of Nassau Village yesterday, who said she loved her husband and had no intention of killing him on July 31, 2010.
Williams is charged with the murder of her 45-year-old husband, Sylvanus Williams.
Mr Williams died in a vacant parking lot between the Green Parrot Bar and the Bahamas Air Sea Rescue Association (BASRA) headquarters on East Bay Street.
At the opening of trial, the court heard that the victim arrived at about 9pm to report for his shift as a security guard at the US-based firm American Bridge, but was stabbed by a woman following an argument. He died at the scene.
His wife, an American citizen of Boston, Massachusetts, is alleged to have stabbed him. She has denied the murder charge.
Yesterday, the widow elected to give evidence on the witness stand as opposed to remaining silent.
After taking the oath, her lawyer Godfrey Pinder asked her to tell the court how her 18 years of marriage led to the fatal stabbing.
The accused said she met and married Sylvanus in her home city and “in the beginning”, it was a happy marriage.
“He drinked a lot. He had a lot of anger. But I loved him and dealt with it because he was my husband.”
She explained that her husband became her everything because she had a rough childhood and was forced to grow up as young as 14 when she left the home of her adoptive parents of 12 years.
She said when living in Boston, Sylvanus would throw and break things around the house and abuse the animals.
“He killed two of my dogs with his bare hands. Sometimes he wouldn’t feed us or put food in the house,” she said, adding that at one point she had to sell her wedding ring to feed her family because he didn’t allow her to work.
“Did he beat you?” Mr Pinder asked.
“Yes,” she replied.
“I don’t know what it was that made him angry,” she added, before telling the court she had reported her husband to police for pushing her downstairs when she was eight months pregnant.
The incident resulted in Sylvanus being imprisoned for two years before he was deported back to the Bahamas.
She returned to the Bahamas two years after living with her parents in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. She moved to the Bahamas with their children and moved in with her husband when he claimed he had stopped drinking and had changed.
She said he went back to his old drinking habits not long after. She said he pulled a gun on her when she defended their son from him after the boy asked for a new school shirt.
Williams claimed she reported the abuse continuously to police who told her that they could not do anything about it.
She testified that police arrested her, instead of her husband, on Christmas Eve 2009 after she and her husband got into a fight when he tried to choke her.
Recalling the day of her husband’s death, the accused said her husband was up early in the yard of their Nassau Village home.
He was washing their red Chevy Blazer jeep and sometime later during the late afternoon early evening, got into an argument with the next door neighbour who was threatening to call the police.
She diffused the situation by telling her husband that it was time for him to get ready for work.
While she was in the room with a friend and her children getting her hair dyed, her husband asked her to ride with him to work.
“I tell him I didn’t want to ride, but he said ‘I didn’t ask you, I’m telling you,” she said.
She relented and told her two children that she would ride with their father, despite their protests for her not to go with him.
On their way to his job, she asked to stop for a dollar cigarette, which is where the 12-year-old boy ended up accompanying them to the back of the Fish Fry to feed the 23 dogs that her husband had to feed.
She admitted that she brought the boy along because she didn’t want to be alone with her husband.
“We then proceeded to get closer to where the dogs were located. Sylvanus got out of the car and slammed the door. A dog jumped on him excited to see him. He held the dog by the chain and punched him.”
He got back in the car to go to the American Bridge firm to drop off the pitbull in the back of the car while “blasting” music in the car, much to her annoyance. On the way to East Bay Street, they got caught in a traffic jam and her husband, angry, tried to go around and nearly crashed into an oncoming car.
She claimed he got out of the car with his unlicensed shotgun and threatened to kill the driver. She said she chastised him and he got back in the car and proceeded to speed worse than he was doing when they left home.
“I said to him several times to slow down,” the court heard.
She said he sped into the Green Parrot parking lot, abruptly stopped the car and grabbed her arm before pushing her face into the window glass on the passenger’s side of the car.
“I was fighting to get him off me,” she said.
She said she reached around for a weapon she knew her husband usually switched every morning and stabbed him in the arm which firmly held her neck , cutting off her breathing.
“I stabbed him inside the van. I never got out of the car with that knife,” she claimed. She said that she dropped the knife on the ground as opposed to getting out of the car. She grabbed him by the shirt and stabbed him as two eye witnesses had earlier testified in court.
Prosecutor Neil Braithwaite has yet to cross-examine the accused as Mr Pinder indicated yesterday that he needed at least 30 minutes extra to complete their defence.
Justice Vera Watkins reminded the defendant that she was still under oath and could not speak to anyone, including her attorney.
The judge also warned Mr Pinder not to coach his client as she was still due to give further evidence.
The trial resumes today at 10am.