Let’s go back to a date in Mar. of last year. Mar. 6, 2006. Police receive a call to the address. They may or may not have recognized the address, but it was the address of a county special deputy. Or they may have recognized the address through previous calls. The history indicates there had been 6 times in the last 2 years.
Nikki Henderson, 29, lived there with her husband Ray Spradley, 42 and at least one child, Nikki’s 7 year old daughter. And despite the 2 year history of domestic violence, the couple were newlyweds only married a few short months. Of the previous calls to the home, Ray Spradley made 4 of those calls with allegations that he was being beaten. Nikki Henderson was arrested once, and was given a diverson program. Spradley at one point had a restraining order against Nikki Henderson.
So on Mar. 6 when police arrived they found the body of Nikki Henderson. She had been shot, allegedly there were a total of 11 shots fired. The defense attorney has stated the events occured like this:
“Ray took the gun away from Nikki. Nikki took the gun away from Ray. Ray took the gun away a second time and then fired 11 times at Nikki Henderson,”
After the shooting Spradley left the home. It was up to the 7 year old child to go to a neighbor for assistance and make contact with police. Some articles indicate the child witnessed the shooting.
Now it is almost two years later and the case is coming to trial. Spradley has been in jail without bond since he turned himself into police shortly after the shooting. He is expected to testify in his own defense. It has been indicated that he intends to claim “battered husband” as a defense. According to the defense attorney:
“We believe that given the circumstances and the fact that there had been other instances of violence between the two persons committed by her — we think the evidence will show that he took the only course of action available to him under the circumstances,”
Now that is going to be an interesting trial. The defense attorney of course gets his information from his client. His client is claiming that Nikki had the gun, then he got it, then Nikki got it, then he got it back. Now this is just my opinion- but whoever holds the gun has more control of a situation. And if this story is true (hopefully there will some evidence at trial to prove or disprove that)- that would mean that Henderson had control at first, Spradley second, Henderson third and Spradley had the final control. The way I am seeing it, whoever had the gun had the means of leaving the situation. I would like to know why when either of them had the weapon did they not use that to keep things in control long enough to leave? Yet neither did. Instead possession of the weapon seems to have been the priority.
HSH guilty of gender bias? I had a lot of trouble writing this one. I found myself questioning if he may have had the knowlege and experience to perhaps turn any abuse complaints to his advantage. I found myself questioning why he stayed with her and why they married if there was previous abuse (sound familiar? the cliche often used when females claim abuse and don’t leave the relationship.) And I found myself wondering if his allegations that Nikki Henderson was the one to introduce the gun were really what happened. And I found myself thinking that if I had heard this as the female doing the shooting that perhaps, just maybe in some ways it could be “self-defense” but a man?
And I realized that if it had been the female who had done the shooting instead of the reverse, I wouldn’t have been as questioning. So yes, even I sometimes have some gender bias. That is something I work on. Maybe he is slanting the story to excuse the shooting. Or maybe he is being truthful. One thing I did note is the number of shots. 11 shots, they wanted them dead. Overkill. Yet that is something that I often hear about when a woman who has been abused does kill her husband/boyfriend. As if once they get started, they don’t or can’t stop. There have actually been studies showing that the abused person sees the abuser as all powerful and they continue because they think that is needed to make sure they are safe. Or it is a sign of extreme rage.
I think this trial will be interesting because the evidence will say a lot, his testimony will say a lot. But the biggest factor is going to be how the jury perceives it. And traditionally juries don’t accept “battered wife syndrome” very well, so what will they do with “battered husband?” But no matter what the gender, one thing that will be looked at is did they have a way to leave the violent episode. And having possession of the gun and not leaving will probably be looked at.
All this reportedly happened in front of a 7 year old child. A 7 year old child that in spite of her fear of the events, in spite of the sight of her mother and in spite of her age had to seek out a neighbor for comfort and assistance. Children who lose their parents at this young age do suffer a lot of anguish at the loss of a parent. But this child will have more- she not only lost her mother, she lost her through violence and she saw it happen. And with 11 shots being fired, she could also have been endangered if not directly by the gun going off during the struggle, then by a stray bullet.
Instead of one of them using their control of the situation through possession of the weapon to leave, we have a mother dead, a child endangered and motherless, and a man in jail and facing a possible prison sentence. Nobody ever wins in a domestic.
A big thank you to DP for the tip on this one.
Thanks to J we have an update. Ray Spradley was found guilty of the charge of voluntary manslaughter, not murder. He now faces sentencing which could be 20 to 50 years in prison.
Now we have more information. During the trial an expert defense witness hired by the defense testified that Spradley did show signs of “battered spouse syndrome”, but a psychologist hired by the prosecution testified that he also showed signs of some characteristics of an abuser.
Spradley had taken a protection order out against Nikki Henderson. But at one point Nikki Henderson had taken out a protection order against Spradley. The defense brought up the previous police reports of injuries that Spradley alleged he recieved from slaps, bites and punches from Nikki Henderson- but police noted the injuries were minimal.
It was also noted during the trial that Spradley first fired three shots into Nikki Henderson’s front and she fell face down. But after she tried to speak, he then fired eight (8) shots into her back.
Spradley told police the argument began after Nikki Henderson learned that he had been given cologne as a birthday gift from a co-worker.
Family has also said they had heard Spradley verbally abuse and ridicule Nikki Henderson.