We are asked to write and discuss a case regarding a married woman named Marcia Norman who was in an abusive relationship that in the end she ended up murdering her spouse Mitchell. In this paper I will discuss and provide information as to why the Marci is guilty and not guilty of murdering her husband under the guide lines of batter woman syndrome and her defense of self-defense.



 This case involves a woman named Marcia and her husband Mitchell. We are presented with clear evidence that Mitchell is abusive and violent towards Marcia which in the ends leads Marica to make the decision to murder her husband. At trial, Marcia pleads self-defense, which is defined as “the necessity, real or reasonably apparent, of killing an unlawful aggressor to save oneself from imminent death or great bodily harm.”   (Source:  North Carolinav. Norman, 378 SE2d 8 Supreme Court of North Carolina 1989)

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In this first sections I will present reasons why I feel Marci Norman is not guilty of murdering her husband. Was Marci a battered wife who shot her husband, in self-defense or a determined mother and wife that had enough psychological and physical in an abusive relationship? Marci main argument for trial as I stated above is self-defense I will be providing evidence from the case and our readings to support these claims

The information’s provide is that her husband forced her into prostitution for income and multitudes of physical and psychological abuse. Marci husband uses a lot of degrading and power controlling behavior to control her. Marci testimony is a way to help assist in understanding her motives and provide credibility as best she can to the jury. Marci became very dependent on Mitchell for everything and with no way for her to provide for herself she shows signs of becoming trapped. Marci truly believed that it was necessary for self-defense because she believed she was in imminent harm that Michelle was going to harm her. If we look at Marci behaviors and frame of mind we are starting to get a clear picture of psychiatric issues starting to develop. The issue that becomes apparent is what is classified as battered woman syndrome. Marci shows all the basic symptoms and behavior of a battered woman based on information and behaviors provided. The best way to prove this is to have a psychiatric evaluation done on Marci to prove this. With a psychiatric diagnosis added to her defense will help back up her defense and explain to the jury why she murdered her husband and why it was self-defense. If we take a look at what battered woman is defined as in our text books “involves one who has been, on at least two occasions, the victim of physical, sexual, or serious psychological abuse”( Paul Harvey Wallace, Cliff Roberson(2016). So was Marci psychologically traumatized to the point that she became incapable of forming rational thoughts and just acted to a stressful and violent situation. With this information provided we look at how batter woman syndrome is broken down under a few key points of why a woman would stay in an abusive relationship.

·         Fear/ terror

·         Learned Helplessness

·         Guilt and feeling of failure

·         Lack of resources

With looking at these points it helps us see why Marci felt she was stuck in this relationship or why in the ended she shot her husband. She has become so reliant in Mitchell for everything in life and he isolate her so she sees no way out or lack of resources to get out of the relationship. She becomes so trapped in fear mentality and never knowing when Mitchell was going to strike physical she went to the only method she found could keep her safe which is a gun for safety. When someone gets to a point where they become trapped or caged they tend to act out or find any means to protect themselves. Marci was brought to trial for shooting her husband but it was stated she did so after years of abuse and after he had threatened to kill her based on information provided. Marci shows signs that she was too scared to leave her husband. Marci describing Mitchell as violent, unpredictable and abusive and did what she had to keep her and her kids safe. This shows that the self -defense clam is relabeled and fits all the information and evidence based on what is provided.


In this next section though I will discuss all the reasons and evidence based on why Marci is guilty. We need to have a clear picture of both sides to the argument to try and draw up a conclusive idea and thought process on guilty or not. This is based on information provided and laws and data from our readings. Was Marci calculating to kill her husband determined to only escape her horrible marriage and life? A strong defense with the self-defense is to provide evidence of prior abuse of the victim other than just her words will help build a strong case. We are only really provided what Marci says. One thing that would help is her family know we don’t really know for sure and that starts to get away from the topic. Is Marci using battered woman syndrome and self-defense clam as a way to justify her actions for shooting her husband? For many it seems that this is used quite a lot as a defense any time a wife murders her spouse. With that being said is it a get out of jail free card or did the abuse really happen. women with abusive partner or that are in an abusive relationship are often forced to make a difficult choice in their lives. This choice comes down to the basics kill or be killed. with this being stated Marci might have killed Michelle as a way out not in self-defense.  The lack of evidence provided on Marci mental state makes you star to wonder did she have alterative motives other than self defense here. The problem is that abuse victims often don’t want anyone to know about the abuse. Thus, it’s hard to determine if there is enough evidence of an abusive relationship you need hard facts and cold hard evidence to back everything up and some of Marci information is shaky and leads you to think she thought out killing her husband this is based on the fact she took the baby to her mothers and returned with a pistol. The fact that she came back with a gun means she had alterative motives yes self-defensive was one of them. for someone to bring a gun that was not in the home in the first place shows home frantic, fearful and most of all the desperation Marci was in that drove her to the point that she had hit her last resort. Bring a gun back into an already violent situation is dangerous and makes you truly wonder Marci state of mind at this time knowing a gun is leather did she mean it as a way to scare Michelle we really don’t know but one thing is made clear she intended on using the gun if needed and in this case, she shot and killed him.

One big problem that becomes apparent is with all the information only being provided by Marci and with Mitchell not there to defend himself based on the fact he is dead we get one side to things. This is all one sided as you will never truly know what Mitchell is like only through words of others and what Marci says. One of the big issue that stands out here is that Marci claimed she took her sleeping child to her mother’s so the child would not wake her husband then came back with a pistol. This is classified as premeditated murder as she planned on killing him whether he was violent towards her or not her mind was made up. The self-defense clam only works if she shot him to protect herself from him harming her without intentions to kill him. She planned her thoughts and made a plan which in this case makes her defense tricky. Even with batter woman syndrome added to defense and showing how her mental mentality is affected logistically she planned on killing him and it will be a tough case even with all evidence and witnesses to the abuse to prove she had not intended to kill him on purpose. However, while it seems clear that Marci was a victim of abuse based on information provided above there is a lingering question to consider. This question is and seems to be what isn’t as crystal clear is was Marci in imminent harm’s way at the time she murdered her husband.


Abused women who kill their partners do so in reaction to extreme circumstance this can be due to escalating abuse which is the most common one and reason. Also, the protection of children or other household members is high on the list to a reason why someone kills their partner.  You have to really think did Michelle have it coming to him, did he have himself only to blame in all of this maybe. If we were in Marci shoes would we have done the same there’s no real answer we all have the clam of what we would have done but if we were put into that very same situation would we end up in the same place and situation and done the same actions as Marci had done?  Getting out of an abusive relationship can be extremely difficult leaving many to do extrema things. This case is a tricky one to prove as there is substantial evidence and information that provides both clams of guilty and not guilty. The big debate is it could go either way in a court room depending on the jury selection weather Marci will be seen as a sympathetic battered woman who saw no hope to escape and no other way out. Or will they see her as a cold-blooded killer who played out and fallowed through will murdering her husband. Will the jury even believe Marci story she provided about her life and what happened in the first place. The defense that Marci used is it a way for a battered woman to justify for why a woman may have felt the need to defend herself and does this entail sometimes even justifying kill her abuser for me I see both sides and am sympathetic and understanding why she did what she did. However, I also see the justice system side and see her guilty. No real win on this one either way your neither right or wrong. All depends how the jury saw that case and decided, can these defenses be taken too far in ways if you think about them. Is it a free ticket to “get out of jail” after killing an abuser this is a real debate many still struggle with. There has been considerable confusion by lawyers and judges to this day that argue and who believed it is a defense similar to self-defense but not self-defense. So is it self defense or is it murder even with the facts everyone has their own true opinion on this topic. 

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