Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Memphis, TN: Frayser woman on trial for 2010 shooting death of husband

When Memphis police arrived at the small one-story home on Balfour in Frayser two years ago, Robert Houston was dead from five gunshot wounds and his body was wrapped in a blue blanket on the kitchen floor.

His wife Angela, now on trial for first-degree murder, said she shot him in self-defense when his drinking, threats and abuse had finally gone too far.

"In the beginning, the marriage was peachy and rosy, but as it progressed she was in a reign of terror living with Robert Houston," defense attorney Arthur Horne told a Criminal Court jury Tuesday. "This man gave her no choice. She had nowhere to run, nowhere to go because he locked them in the house and he had the keys. He'd say to her and her kids, 'I've just got to kill all of y'all.'"

State prosecutor Carla Taylor told jurors, however, that Angela Houston told her husband's sister two weeks earlier that she was going to kill Robert Houston because she was "tired of him messing around" with other women.

"Despite his shortcomings, there were many who loved Robert Houston," Taylor said in her opening statement. "Angela Houston did not have to kill him."

The shooting occurred the evening of April 7, 2010, at their home at 4009 Balfour, where the couple lived with three of her four children by a previous marriage, including two young boys and a teenaged daughter.

Angela Houston, now 45, told police she shot her 51-year-old husband during an altercation and that she feared he was reaching for a gun.

After the shooting, she left the house with her children, took them to a motel and returned to the house several hours later with a friend, Robert Wesson, to see if her husband was dead or alive.

Wesson told the jury he was nervous about going into the house, knowing of Houston's temper and weight-lifter physique.

"I said 'Leave the door open in case he's playing possum,'" he testified, adding that he peeked into the bedroom and saw Houston lying on the bed at an odd angle. "I saw him and I thought he might be drunk. I touched his lower leg and it was cold, but I thought it could just be cold feet. Then I looked at his face and could see he was dead."

Wesson said Houston was wearing white socks, black jeans and a white tank top undershirt, a garment he referred to several times as "a wife beater." Houston had been arrested at least twice on domestic violence charges.

He said Angela Houston convinced him to help her drag the body off the bed, down the hallway and into the kitchen.

"She was like 'What I ... what I ... what I need to do?'" Wesson continued, adding that at one point she wet her pants from nervousness and had to change clothes. "She was just shaking. She was thinking of putting the body in the Camaro, but I said 'He's stiff as a board. He'd never fit.' I told her to call police."

Her family members eventually called police and Angela Houston gave a statement of admission, saying she shot her husband "to keep him back off us because I was afraid of him killing me and my kids like he said he gonna do."

The trial before Judge James Lammey resumes Wednesday.

Angela Houston is free on $150,000 bond. She faces life in prison if convicted as charged.

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