Ibn-Tamas v. United States

407 A.2d. 626 (1979)

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Ibn-Tamas v. United States

District of Columbia Court of Appeals
407 A.2d. 626 (1979)

Facts

Beverly Ibn-Tamas (defendant) was charged with second-degree murder after she shot her husband, Yusef Ibn-Tamas, to death. At trial, Beverly testified that on the morning of the shooting, Yusuf had battered her, even kicking her in the stomach despite her pregnancy, pointed a gun at her, and told her to leave their home. During the altercation, Beverly picked up Yusef’s gun and shot him, allegedly believing herself to be in imminent danger and acting in self-defense. However, Yusef’s secretary, who arrived at the home during the altercation, testified that between the second and third shots, she heard Yusef yelling for Beverly not to shoot him again and heard Beverly state that she would never leave him. On cross-examination, the state painted Beverly’s testimony regarding the history of abuse by Yusef as overblown and her perception of imminent danger as implausible, suggesting to the jury that the logical reaction of a frightened woman brutalized by her husband would have been to call the police sometimes or leave him. Beverly sought to have Dr. Lenore Walker testify as an expert regarding battered women based on her study of 110 battered women. Beverly asserted the relevance of Walker’s testimony in helping the jury assess Beverly’s credibility. However, the trial court excluded the testimony on two grounds relating to probative value and one ground relating to admissibility. Beverly was convicted, and she appealed. On appeal, the appellate court found the expert testimony was more probative than prejudicial. The appellate court considered the ground relating to admissibility that Walker’s testimony would preempt the jury’s role as the fact-finder.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Ferren, J.)

Dissent (Nebeker, J.)

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