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Woman who killed boyfriend changes story, claims battered woman’s defense

01/31/2014 6:55 PM

10/08/2014 11:35 AM

The day she was sentenced for her plea deal on second-degree murder, Kathryn Spiak first wanted to tell Jeremy Jones’ family how sorry she was “from the bottom of my heart” for fatally stabbing him twice in the chest.

“I can’t begin to find the words to say I’m sorry,” Spiak said, for the fatal knifing of her 32-year-old boyfriend after a fight in their Rancho Cordova apartment.

“I feel miserable and sick about taking Jeremy’s life from him … I’m going to live with that for the rest of my life, and every day I tell Jeremy how sorry and sad I feel for doing this to him. I hope one day you’ll forgive me,” Spiak said.

Serving a prison term of 16 years-to-life, Spiak says she now more clearly recalls what happened on the night of Dec. 8, 2010, on La Loma Drive when she killed Jones, an Army veteran she met in phlebotomy school.

Spiak, 43, now claims she was a victim of battered-woman syndrome and has filed a writ of habeas corpus to get herself out of the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla.

She had been scheduled to testify Friday in Sacramento Superior Court, in an ongoing hearing in front of Judge Raoul M. Thorbourne, but an unexpected delay put her testimony off until Thursday.

When Spiak takes the stand, she probably won’t stray too far from the sworn declaration she gave in her writ.

“Jeremy and I decided to buy some beer, get drunk and have a nice evening,” Spiak said in the declaration filed July 23. “I started making dinner for us when Jeremy suddenly became very angry and started cussing me out, slapping me, punching me and pushing me around.”

She said she locked herself in the bathroom but that Jones broke in and “dragged me out by my hair, ripping off my clothes.” She said he tried to throw her out of their apartment.

Things calmed down a bit, and Spiak said she grabbed a beer. Then Jones knocked it out of her hand, she said, the fight resumed and Spiak said she grabbed a knife “and warned him to leave me alone.”

“He kept coming at me, and I stabbed him,” she said.

Spiak’s sworn recitation said she first retrieved the knife because: “I thought I could scare him into leaving me alone, so I grabbed a knife.”

She said before she stabbed Jones, she first stabbed the bed. She detailed the bed-stabbing more fully in an interview she gave to sheriff’s detectives right after the killing.

After the initial fracas, Spiak told investigators Jones went into the bathroom. When he did, she said she retrieved two knives “and went over to the hide-a-bed where we sleep and stabbed the bed a few times just to get some aggression out and see what it felt like.”

Jones came out of the bathroom to lie down naked on the bed, Spiak said. She told detectives Jones then “started challenging me. He told me to leave immediately and basically he was going to (beat me).”

“I told him I wasn’t leaving and he needed to leave, and he said, ‘Well, just go ahead and kill me,’ ” Spiak said in the interview.

“He kept daring me to kill him. I grabbed the knife and I looked at him and I said to him, ‘I don’t know if this is going to do the trick.’ I didn’t know the knife would actually go in. When it did, I was in total shock,” Spiak said.

She told detectives Jones became physical once before, about five months prior to the killing. But in her declaration, she said he began slapping her around starting almost from the time they met in April 2008 at National Career Education, where they took phlebotomy classes together.

The habeas writ, filed by Sacramento attorney Kelly Babineau, lists two previous convictions in Jones’ criminal record, including one for misdemeanor assault in a domestic case.

The writ lists ineffective assistance of counsel as the primary basis for the petition. It argues that Richard Corbin, the lawyer who represented Spiak when she entered her no-contest plea in April 2011, did not fully explore a battered-woman’s defense.

Corbin could not be reached for comment Friday.

Deputy District Attorney Carlton Davis, in his court papers, defended Corbin’s call. The prosecutor said Corbin thoroughly investigated the case, had a psychologist speak with Spiak about her mental state and that he “considered all defenses” before she agreed to the plea. The deal cut 10 years from her exposure on a first-degree murder case.

Linda Bernard, a marriage and family therapist and expert on domestic violence, testified Jan. 10 that Spiak’s case met the criteria for battered-woman syndrome. In his court papers, the prosecutor said Bernard’s finding “relies on the petitioner’s self-serving statement” to the therapist “that completely contradicts the statement she gave to law enforcement when the incident occurred.”

Sacto 911 Staff

Bill Lindelof

Cathy Locke

Andy Furillo
Superior Court

Denny Walsh
Federal Court

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