Bechtel v. State

840 P.2d 1 (1992)

Facts

D met Ken Bechtel, in June 1981. D saw him five times and they were married on August 25, 1982. The court then detailed out the evidence of their married life by D's statement even though that testimony conflicted greatly with that presented by the State (P) at trial. From July 4, 1982, until September 23, 1984, the day of the fatal shooting, D was subjected to 23 battering incidents by Ken (H). H committed the batterings when intoxicated and without provocation. The batterings consisted of the deceased grabbing D by either her ears or hair and pounding her head on the ground, wall, door, cabinet or other available object. During many of the episodes he would sob profusely and ramble about his deceased son who was born retarded. During all of the episodes, the deceased threatened or otherwise intimidated D. D was treated in the Emergency Room on three occasions. On five occasions, D sought police help. Each time the police arrived at her home, H was made to leave. On several occasions, D was able to escape her residence and stay overnight at various hotels. On the day of H's death, he had returned home from a hunting trip intoxicated. D had a friend, Billy Bender, who was visiting from out of state. H got D out of bed so they could have a drink. D, H and Bender sat and listened to H relate how he was arrested for drunk driving. D then went back to bed. D could hear H crying. D became afraid that Bender might be in difficulty. D attracted Bender inside to get some cigarettes. D then warned Bender to go to bed immediately and leave H sleep it off. The next thing D remembered was hearing the night table drawer opening and seeing H with the .25 gun in his hand. D frantically looked for her purse and keys and was intercepted by H who pulled her by the hair and threw her back on the bed. The beatings began again and D manhandled her and had sex with her. When H slumped on top of her, she washed herself in the bathroom. H then came up behind her, grabbed the back of her head, threw her down on the floor, bit her on the left breast and finally lay his head on her lower body. After calming H down, the telephone rang. D vomited and then tried to get dressed and H forced her back onto the bed. H then slumped on top of her and after she got free she lit a cigarette and after seeing a contorted look and glazed eyes of H who was raising his arms again, D got a gun under the bed and shot and killed H as she tried to get up and run. H died. D defended on the theory of self-defense. The trial court refused to allow evidence of battered wife syndrome. D was convicted and appealed.