Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Boulder, CO woman who stabbed husband in heart pleads to negligent homicide - gets 90 days JAIL with work release

(Original Post 2-13-10)
A 32 year old Boulder, CO woman who stabbed her husband pled guilty to criminal negligent homicide after stabbing her husband, John Houseman, to death with a kitchen knife. Traci Housman was originally charged with 2nd degree murder, which carried a sentence of 10-32 years in prison. Criminally negligent homicide carries a 1-3 year prison sentence. In 2007, the couple met on Myspace after a 20 year off and on relationship. They were married in June 2008.

Boulder County District Court Judge Maria Berkenkotter has discretion in sentencing as the guilty plea was "blind." Matthew Connell, Traci's public defender, plans to ask for a probation sentence for his client because of the victim's history of domestic violence. Police reports and one of John's ex-wives tell of his violent tendencies. He was ticked by police in 2001 after death threats and "basking her face in."

According to police, Housman stabbed her husband once in the chest with a kitchen knife during an altercation in their 2994 23rd St. home early on Aug. 2. Housman told investigators that they had been drinking on the Pearl Street Mall earlier in the night and ended up at a nearby sushi restaurant, where John Housman started telling people, "I'm gay," according to a police report.

Traci Housman told detectives that her husband had told her years ago that he was bisexual, and she had no problem with it. But, according to police, she told him that night "that it was disrespectful for him to announce this to everyone since they were married."

They got into an argument, and Traci Housman decided to walk home, the report said. When she arrived, her husband was waiting, "and he was angry," according to the report.

Traci Housman told police that her husband pushed her into a wall, grabbed her hair and hit her head several times. She told detectives that he pushed her head into a glass framed picture, causing it to break, and she eventually got away to grab a knife from the kitchen, according to police.

"Traci said she poked out at John with one of the knives she had grabbed, and he suddenly stopped his attack," the report said.

Housman said she ran to the backyard, and when she went back into the house, she found John Housman sitting up against a wall with a large wound where she had "poked him," the report said. She immediately began CPR, according to police, and called 911 twice.

Stewart Lundstrom, Traci's brother, said "We are saddened that we can't be there for her with such an important choice to make. Please note that although we are stuck here, our hearts are with Traci, whatever her decision may be." Lundstrom and Traci's mother attended all of her hearings except the plea agreement, which they missed due to a snowstorm. Traci will be sentenced on April 23, and is being held in the Boulder County Jail on $250,000 bail.

(Update 4-27-10) Last Friday, Housman was sentenced by Boulder County District Court Judge Maria Berkenkotter to 7 years probation, 400 hours of community service and 90 days in the Boulder County jail's work release program. "It's completely undisputed that Mrs. Housman stabbed Mr. Housman...The dents in the wall that were made by John slamming Mrs. Housman's head into the wall are powerful evidence of what happened that evening...I am persuaded that Mrs. Housman is genuinely and profoundly remorseful for her actions."

Hope Housman, the victim's daughter, had a letter about the loss of her father read by Boulder County Deputy District Attorney David Cheval. "I was daddy's girl. I never thought about how life would be without daddy. Words can't explain how I feel. There's a hole in my heart."

None of John Housman's family members or friends were in the courtroom Friday, while numerous friends and family members showed up to support Traci Housman. Deputy District Attorney Amy Okubo said John Housman's supporters stayed away because they didn't want to hear bad things about the man they loved.

Matthew Connell, defense attorney for Housman, said he didn't want to insult John Housman during the hearing, "but I don't know how to talk about this case and ignore the fact that John Housman was very severely beating up Traci Housman that night."

Traci herself said in mitigation, "I know how excited they [John and Hope]were for all those things, and now [Hope will] have to feel his absence at all of those milestones...But John was different that night. I saw it in his eyes...I really loved John, and I still do. Know that I never wanted this to happen."

The 90 day jail sentence will be suspended once Traci finds employment, something a defense attorney said will be at a local gas station. As for the community service, her father John Lundstrom said "The community service -- that's not punishment to her. That's what she loves to do."

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