Jury Deliberations Begin on Domestic Violence Homicide Case

A jury of six men and six women began deliberations late Wednesday afternoon on whether or not a Northeast DC grandmother is culpable of manslaughter in the stabbing death of her on-again-off-again boyfriend.

Patricia Cave’s defense attorney argued for the second day Wednesday that Cave stabbed Lamont Warren in the chest in self-defense.

Prosecutor Charles Cobb mocked that theory in front of the jury in his closing arguments.

‘Oops! It slipped!,’” he said, gesturing in a stabbing motion to his own chest and opening his eyes up large.

[Cave] exercised her ‘Double-O’ certificate, her license to kill,” Cobb said. “Except she didn’t have a license to kill.”

Jurors have been tasked with deciding not whether Cave killed Warren but if she acted in self-defense.

Star defense witness Dr. Lenore Walker, an international expert in the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder on battered women, testified Wednesday that Cave exhibited symptoms of severe PTSD and that she was a victim of domestic violence.

According to the government’s evidence in the case, Warren showed up on Cave’s doorstep the night of June 2 with gifts of cigarrettes, beer, and vodka, despite the fact that Cave had a court order requiring him to stay away from her and her home. Cave opened the door. When Warren asked if he could lie down, Cave instructed him to go back to the bedroom.

In the video-taped statement Cave told detectives that Warren wouldn’t move over to make room for her when she came to bed and that when she told him it was her bed he began berating her, leading to a physical altercation on the bed. Cave said that when Warren grabbed at her throat, strangling her she grabbed a knife from her nightstand. The two tussled, then Warren sat up and said that she had stabbed him.

A District medical examiner testified that Warren died of a stab wound to his chest. She said the blade was stuck three inches deep into his chest, striking his heart. He died of his injuries that day.

Dr. Walker, who issued the expert opinion that Cave was a victim of domestic violence, said that it would not have been atypical for a domestic violence victim to open the door to their abuser, as Cave did.

She had both the positive and negative with him,” Walker said, adding that at times Warren was very loving with Cave. “She wanted to believe he would stop his abusive behavior and he’d understand he’d be in trouble if he abused her again.”

Going to the claim of self-defense, Walker testified that, when the fight began, Cave likely perceived a strong danger, based on previous patterns of abuse at Warren’s hands.

Defense attorney Santha Sonnenberg said Cave’s fear, and claim to self-defense, was and is legitimate.

Her fear of Mr. Warren was reasonable,” Sonnenberg said. “He’d attacked her before. He’d choked her before. He’d bruised her before. He’d threatened to kill her before. The first aggressor is Mr. Warren, going at her throat.”

But Cobb asked the jury to believe that, in the particular disagreement that left Warren dead, Cave was the aggressor.

He was minding his own you-know-what business,” Cobb said of Warren. “But like bothering the ‘gator in Florida, she starts messing with him about bed space.”

Cave is charged with one count of voluntary manslaughter. In order to find her guilty, jurors must unanimously agree that Cave caused Warren’s death, that she intended to kill or injure him, that she did not act in self-defense, and that she was armed with a knife.

Deliberations are scheduled to resume Thursday morning.

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