An Alabama woman was sentenced to 25 years last week in a Tuscaloosa courtroom for fatally shooting her ex-husband, but immediately following the sentencing, the woman gave additional testimonies, which, according to local media reports, now has some of the jurors second-guessing their decision to convict her of murder.
Tracey and Hunter Grissom were in the midst of a messy divorce when they crossed paths at a boat dock, eventually leading to the demise of Hunter. The prosecution claimed Tracey shot Hunter in cold blood, in an attempt to collect a life insurance policy of more than $100,000. But Tracey said she emptied her gun after feeling threatened when Hunter gave her a mean look and an obscene gesture as he advanced towards her.
The jury never bought the claim that Tracey shot Hunter for the insurance policy, but rather instead expressed during closing statements that they felt it was a “crime of passion.”
However, it was the severe alleged abuse that occurred before the shooting – all of which was not allowed to be discussed during the trial – that left some jurors feeling uneasy about their decision and at least one saying outright that her verdict would have been different had she known the full details of the circumstances surrounding their volatile relationship.
Tracey said she had endured regular abuse from Hunter, but in November 2010, it hit an all-time low.
On the day in question, Hunter knocked Tracey to the ground, tied her ankles together using a belt and choked her with a drumstick until she was unconscious. Hunter then proceeded to rape her and sodomize her, assaulting her so severely that she needed surgery to repair rectal nerve damage and torn vaginal ligaments, among other medical problems. Tracey also needed a hysterectomy, leaving the young woman unable to bear more children. In addition, the damages sustained during the rape left Tracey with a colostomy bag.
“He told me that he would make it to where nobody would ever want me,” Tracey said.
Marian Waters, a domestic violence counselor who worked with Tracey after she sought help, said the injuries Tracey sustained during that attack were the worst she had witnessed in her 20-year career.
“I was horrified,” Waters said. “She had been subjected to a very vicious and very brutal assault. She was constantly on guard, experienced panic attacks and was jumpy. She had horrible night terrors. I felt she was about to be put in a lethal situation and was terrified for her life.”
Hunter was eventually faced charges for rape, sodomy and unlawful imprisonment and possession of drug paraphernalia, among other charges.
However, Hunter’s family painted a very different picture of him during the trial, claiming he was a hard worker and a loving father. The family said the rape allegations were false and described Tracey as “psychotic” and “selfish,” even shaming her for continuing to hold onto Hunter’s last name instead of going back to her maiden name.
Nonetheless, some of the jurors were moved by the account of the alleged rape.
“I wish we had seen evidence of the rape allegation,” the jury foreman wrote in a closing statement. “We feel that she just ‘lost it.’”
Former juror Janice Kelley openly admitted that had she known the details of the prior abuse, her verdict would have been different.
“I feel I made a mistake. … We didn’t get her side. She did not get a fair trial.” said Kelley, who also contacted Tracey’s attorney the day after the trial, expressing a willingness to testify in Tracey’s favor in the future.
“I didn’t think it was a fair trial. I didn’t think, I didn’t think it was right because I have been an abused person and I know what it is like,” Kelley added.
Tracey will be required to spend the nest 25 years behind bars. However, Tracey’s attorney, Warren Freeman, said they will appeal the decision.
“They wanted to hear more about the rape,” Freeman said of the jurors. “They felt like they were not allowed to see enough of the evidence and of course that was a decision the judge made. But we feel that was in error and that’s what our appeal is going to be based on.”