Thursday, June 8, 2006

Baltimore, Maryland

From the Baltimore Sun of June 8, 2006
A rare twist in killing

Grand jury chooses not to indict after abused woman testifies

After hearing from the admitted shooter herself, a Baltimore County grand jury declined yesterday to indict a Randallstown woman who killed her estranged husband in April after, she said, he showed up unexpectedly at her home and threatened her with an ax handle.

The 23 jurors deliberated for less than a half-hour before deciding not to charge Karen L. Foxx, 35, with a crime in the death of her husband, Herman E. Bullock, 45.

In an extremely unusual turn of events, the grand jurors heard about 90 minutes of closed-door testimony from Foxx, and were given the chance to question her about the shooting and her husband's history of abusing her before making their decision.

"It's a very rare thing," said Margaret A. Mead, the criminal defense attorney who sought permission from prosecutors to allow Foxx to testify yesterday. "I always believed that this shooting was very justified - tragic, but justified - and I thought the best way to get that across was to get her in front of a grand jury."

Mead - who was not permitted in the windowless grand jury room on the first floor of the Baltimore County Circuit Courthouse in Towson while her client testified - declined to discuss what Foxx told her of prosecutors' and jurors' questions. She also said that Foxx was not feeling up to being interviewed yesterday.

"She's relieved, but it's still very sad," said Mead, who added that her client wept when informed of the grand jury's decision. "She did love this man, no matter how horrible he was to her. ... She feels responsible, but relieved, that she won't have to compound any of this with having to face a criminal proceeding."

Foxx, an office secretary, had sought court orders to keep her estranged husband away, filed criminal assault charges against him, changed her phone number and bought a gun to protect herself.

She dialed 911 at 4:30 p.m. April 1 to tell police that she had just shot Bullock in the townhouse the couple had shared until June 2005 - a two-story unit to which officers had been dispatched numerous times on domestic calls. Foxx told police she fired the gun after Bullock threatened her with an ax handle - a piece of wood about the length of a baseball bat without the metal ax head attached that she had been using in the tracks of a sliding glass door to secure it.

(Much more)

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