Monday, August 20, 2012

Henderson, NV: Self-defense in abusive relationship or murder? Charge filed against Henderson woman

The Clark County District Attorney’s Office has filed a murder charge against a Henderson woman who reportedly told police in May that she killed her boyfriend after he beat and strangled her.

Tammy M. Lucero, 36, was arrested Thursday and booked into the Henderson Detention Center, where she is being held without bond. She is charged in Henderson Township Justice Court with murder in the May 24 death of 35-year-old David Hudson.

Henderson Police, in an affidavit seeking a warrant for Lucero’s arrest, said that on May 24 Lucero had told a nurse at the St. Rose Dominican Hospitals – Rose de Lima Campus that she had strangled Hudson to death earlier that day at their Judy Lane apartment.

In an interview with Henderson Police officers, Lucero said she and Hudson had a turbulent relationship that included Hudson beating her on average three times a week. Two weeks earlier, Lucero said, Hudson stabbed her in the head, requiring 13 staples to close the cut. Hudson refused to allow Lucero to seek treatment until she promised not to contact police and tell hospital officials she struck her head.

Police noted various injuries on Lucero that substantiated the battery claims.

About 1 p.m. that day, Lucero said Hudson saw her wearing a spaghetti-strap tank top as they were getting ready to leave their apartment and ripped the shirt off her in anger, according to the affidavit. Lucero said Hudson had punched her in the mouth and scratched her in the eyes before throwing her onto the bed, where Hudson tried to strangle her with both hands. Police said injuries on Lucero’s throat substantiated claims she had been choked.

After Hudson let her up, Lucero told police she grabbed a computer power chord. As she unwound the cord, Hudson said, “Go ahead, I’m a gangster. I’m not afraid to die.” Lucero then wrapped the cord around his neck once and squeezed it tight, pulling from both directions, she said. At first, the only resistance Hudson was to put his hand in between his neck and the cord. Hudson, however, then removed his hand.

Hudson made choking and gagging noises and his face turned red, the affidavit said. That was when, as Lucero told police, she “just lost control.” Lucero wrapped the cord around his neck again and pulled harder. As the cord was wrapped around his neck three times, Hudson struggled to grab a knife from the counter.

After pushing him to the couch, Lucero climbed on top of Hudson as he turned blue. Lucero said she got off Hudson’s body only when he had stopped shaking.

Afterward, Lucero took her 2-year-old niece, who also was in the apartment, to Morell Park, believing that Hudson would return and kill her, according to the affidavit. After 20 minutes when Hudson failed to show, Lucero went to the Harry Reid Family Center and told the staff she had been in a violent domestic dispute.

From there, Lucero called her mother, who took her back to the apartment. With Hudson’s lifeless body nearby, Lucero packed her and her niece’s belongings and left. She went to her mother’s house before her sister took her to the hospital.

The residence appeared in disarray, as though a struggle had taken place, according to the affidavit. Crime scene analysts found Hudson face down across a futon chair with the cord around his neck. A torn black spaghetti-strap shirt was spotted in the kitchen trash can. A damaged television set, trash can, frying pan and Ramen noodles littered the floor. Two prescription pill bottles were on the kitchen counter.

Neighbors confirmed witnessing or hearing about the couple’s disputes, which often consisted of Lucero demanding to have Hudson’s pills. However, neighbors said Lucero appeared to be the aggressor in their disputes and that Hudson never struck back.

Hudson had pled guilty to charges of domestic battery on Lucero in February after initially denying he had struck her. In that incident, Lucero was photographed with a red mark on her face and broken skin on the bridge of her nose.

One neighbor said Hudson had told her son that Lucero had stabbed herself in the head in a suicide attempt about two weeks before the incident. Two neighbors also said Hudson told them he had been stabbed by Lucero but did not report the incident as the injury was minor. Another neighbor said Hudson had told her Lucero had thrown an ashtray at him, requiring staples to his head, and that he had received a cut on his hand after taking a knife from her.

The morning of the incident, a next-door neighbor heard Lucero shouting that she wanted to leave, according to a police interview. Despite putting headphones on, the neighbor heard Hudson shout “Just do it!” and Lucero reply “No, do it yourself!” About an hour after the neighbor first heard the couple shout, the struggling turned into silence, he said. When the neighbor went out to check his mail about an hour later, he saw Lucero carrying stroller down the stairs with a small child. She declined his offer to help and said, "No, I'm fine, everything is OK.”

The neighbor confirmed Lucero’s account that she had returned with her mother to reclaim some of her belongings, the affidavit said. He added that he thought it was strange she would return to the unit when Hudson was still lying dead inside.

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