Private Violence (2014) Movie Script

(static humming)
(tone reverberating)
(electronic tone twanging)
(birds chirping)
(car doors clunking)
(engine revving)
- I was calling to find out about,
I believe it was Detective Purvis
that came out and spoke with Candy.
I was wondering if you knew whether there
had been any warrants
issued for (bleeping).
Mm-hmm, no, he knows where
the shelter is, here.
He told her, "I know where the shelter is,
"I know how to find, I
know where to find you."
This is pretty serious.
(car engine passing)
- Even though I choose to by
around him, when I shouldn't.
And I know that I shouldn't,
but it's only because
of the fact that I'm scared.
And I feel like if I don't
do anything he asks of me,
like come when he calls, or
stop everything I'm doing
just to be there, that he would hurt me.
(keyboard clacking)
(door hinge squeaking)
- So what, tell me what just happened?
- He text me, he's saying
he's on his way to Clapp's.
Car wash, here in Pittsboro.
- Here?
Alright, I'm gonna call
Ed right now and tell him.
- 'Kay.
- You okay with that?
- So-so, I guess, I don't
want to involve the law,
but he just needs to leave me alone.
- You understand that
that's not gonna happen
unless law enforcement intervenes.
- Yeah.
- To make it stop.
- Hey, Buddy, I have a question for you.
One of the residents at the shelter,
her abuser keeps calling
her on her cell phone.
She was gonna text him back,
and say, "Where are you?"
And then call the Pittsboro PD and say,
"Here's where he says he is."
Is that some kind of entrapment?
Not entrapment.
- Now you do it, baby,
how 'bout text him back
and say, "Where are you at?"
Where are you at, okay, good.
Let's see how long it takes.
- Okay.
- [Advocate] Oh, oh, here we go.
- Just left Elizabeth's Pizza.
- Alright.
- Hey, he just texted her and said he just
left Elizabeth's Pizza.
(camera shutter clicking)
Do you want to text him back and say,
"I will me you at
Clapp's in five minutes."
- Okay.
- She's texting him now.
- Police everywhere.
- [Advocate] He said,
"Police is everywhere."
That's what he, so.
- Oh my god.
- [Candy] Swarm me, did you do this?
(Kit gasping)
- He just texted her and said,
"Swarm me, did you do this?"
Did they get him?
That's what he, he just,
- License check.
- Oh, he was in a license check.
If they just did a fucking
license check, why?
- [Kit] It should be in the system, so.
- On my way to Al's Diner.
He's on his way to Al's.
- He says, "On my way to Al's Diners."
Tell him, be there in five, you text,
be there in five minutes.
- Okay.
(buttons clicking)
- Alright, alright, bye.
- Are they gonna go get him?
- Yeah, he said just be
vigilant and keep documenting.
(Candy sobbing intensely)
- It's not your fault.
You know, it's not your fault.
His choices and the things that
he did are what caused this.
Okay? I did it.
I made the call.
I did it, okay?
(cell phone ringing)
- This is Ed, hello?
- Hey.
- Hey.
Right next door, not
right up from the shelter?
- Salisbury?
- Yeah.
- That's a half block from here.
Less than half a block.
- Ed thinks
that's where he's at.
Check to see where she is.
Oh my god.
Oh my god, please, please, please, please.
Woo, yes, oh yeah!
Oh, thank you, Ed.
You sure they got him?
Oh thank you, thank you, thank you.
Thank you, I hope they set his
bond high enough to where he
can't get out, 'cause he
is gonna be one pissed off.
Thanks (laughing emotionally).
Yes, I'm so happy!
(door creaking)
(Kit clapping)
(advocates cheering)
- Woo!
- Yay.
(Candy sobbing)
- [Kit] It's okay.
- You alright, sweetie?
- Yeah, I'm good.
- [Kit] It's okay.
- [Candy] It's so hard.
- [Advocate] Yes, it's hard.
Yes it is, it's very hard.
- [Candy] I feel like it's my fault.
- [Kit] It's not your fault.
It is not your fault.
You didn't make him who he is.
If it wasn't you, it'd be somebody else.
- It's Charlotte Talks on
listener-funded 90.7 WFAE
and 90.3 WFHE, I'm Mike Collins.
We're talking about domestic violence.
Kit Gruelle is also a
survivor, so she has worked
with California POST, that
state's effort to train
law enforcement officers to
deal with domestic violence.
And she is known nationally as an advocate
and community educator on this topic.
And you brought a stack of files here.
- These are all restraining orders
from one year in North Carolina.
Now these are not all
the restraining orders
that were issued, there's
probably 45 or 50 orders here.
And every single one of the
women who went to obtain
these orders of protection was murdered.
In precisely the ways that
they said they were gonna be.
So I sometimes refer to restraining orders
as the Last Will and Testament.
Because battered women are the
experts in what's happening
in their relationship, and
we need, society, we need
to treat them like the
experts that they are.
When she says, "He's going to kill me."
Or, "He's going to kill my family."
Or, "He's going to kill my
cousin if he can't get to me."
We have got to step on
the brakes and slow down
and take that whole thing seriously.
And then, when there's a
restraining order violation,
our judicial officials
have to understand that he
is showing contempt for the court system.
And he truly is a risk to her
and to community at large.
- If you're not being hit, if
you're not being threatened
with a knife, or some kind of a weapon.
If it's just words, if it's intimidation,
if it is belittling,
how do you recognize it?
How do others recognize it?
How do you then get others
to say, to help you stop it?
- When I do the hostage
negotiations class, this is one
of the things that I bring
up with the negotiators.
My late husband was a
freak about food intake.
He was trying to gain muscle weight,
so he wanted a lot of protein calories.
And so every night before he went out,
he wanted a bowl of ice
cream, and on the ice cream,
he wanted peanuts, because
peanuts are so high in protein.
So when I went to grocery store,
I had to buy salted peanuts.
Put them in a colander, rinse
them off and pat them dry.
And put the rinsed-off
peanuts on the ice cream.
And while he was eating his
ice cream, if he came across
salt on the peanuts, he would
beat me up, because he said
I didn't do a good enough
job washing the peanuts.
So when I go out and do the
negotiations class, I say to
these cops, what happens
when you show up on the scene
and you get her out there in
the back of the patrol car,
and she's saying to you over
and over and over again,
"I should have done a better
job washing the peanuts."
And when women say stuff like that,
it's not because they're crazy,
it's because the way
they're really living.
(slow guitar music)
Our criminal justice system requires
that she be beaten enough
to satisfy the system.
And by the time it gets to that point,
she's already been so worn
down, psychologically,
and physically and emotionally,
that's when it's really
time for advocates to really step up.
And begin to treat her
like she has some value.
Because she's been told now,
systemically, that she doesn't.
The courts have told her
that she doesn't have value.
And her partner has told her
that she doesn't have value.
Perhaps family and friends have done that
through their actions with her.
And all that strips away from her.
So I think another thing
that advocates do is,
instead of stripping away,
we try to build back up.
You know, a lot of times
battered women leave.
Four or five, six, seven, eight times.
And people start to get tired of it.
They see a woman leave an
abuser and then go back.
It's complicated.
Leaving an abuser is not
an event, it's a process.
And this is where advocates come in.
It's not our job to say to
her, "We're gonna be your
"advocate, when you leave the
first time, when you leave
"the second time, when
you leave the third time.
"But on that fourth time,
"we're not working with you anymore."
That's not how it goes.
If we're going to be effective
advocates, we're going
to recognize that each
woman's case is unique.
And each woman's case is special.
Anybody have any experiences
with the boyfriend
or the husband?
You've had that experience.
- It went on for nine years.
- Wow.
- I went back, I left and
went back three times.
And I won't, this time.
And this last time, he almost killed me
in front of my daughter.
And now I have had 23 seizures,
and my daughter has seen
every one of them and
she takes care of me.
- But what happened to
you shouldn't happen
to anybody, ever.
- I know that and that's
why I'm here (sniffling).
- What do your parents
have to say about it?
- Why didn't you just leave?
- Did he ever threaten to kill you?
- Yeah, lots of times.
My mom called the police
officers, and one of the officers
said that he knew my husband.
And that he knew he was violent person.
But he wasn't violent
enough to kill someone.
They came, I filed charges for
the abuse that I went through
because it happened in another state.
So I'm left to just live with it.
(tense music)
- It's very hard in Deanna's
case, to see a woman get so
hideously beaten and then,
essentially, to have the local
courts say, "Well, we're
sorry that happened to you,
"but we're really, we're
just gonna let it go."
We just can't let this go.
Something has to be done.
I do this work because
I survived a really violent relationship.
Jack punched me really hard in the face.
One time, punched me like I was a man.
And it was the whole thing,
with doing flips off the porch,
and seeing stars and birdies,
and I remember thinking,
wow, this is, it's
really like the cartoons.
And for four days, I stayed on the couch,
with a blanket pulled up over my face.
Because I didn't want the boys to see me,
because I looked so bad.
But then, I couldn't eat,
and I was having a hard
time even swallowing stuff,
so I knew that I needed
to get it looked at.
And Jack drove me down to see my OB/GYN.
And he walked in the room
and looked at my face,
and immediately looked away.
And I just remember feeling sort of
a whole new layer of isolation,
because my doctor wouldn't
look me in the eye
and say, "What happened to you?"
- Alright, so I got one on my
face, where you slapped at me.
Okay, so we were going at it.
- Wait, does that make sense
though, let's think about this.
- Let me see.
- This.
- You scare me.
- Okay, alright, that'll work.
Are you, okay, you want
me to do this again?
- You need some more, yeah.
(knocking on door)
- [Trainer] I don't know why
you always gotta be thinking
I'm cheating on you.
- Well, what was that phone number?
(knocking on door)
- Who cares what the phone
number was, you ain't got
no business going through my
damn phone to begin with.
- I don't care, why don't,
stop it, stop it.
(thudding loudly)
- It's just some girl
that lives down here,
- Who is that person, you're not supposed
to be seeing someone.
- Come on, Kit, shut up.
Just shut up.
- How you doing today, sir?
- I'm alright.
- Is it alright if I come
in and take a look inside?
Mind if we talk to y'all separately?
- No, that's fine, or you can talk
to us together.
- Alright.
- Pardon me, sir, can
I talk to you outside?
- Yeah, sure.
- How are you doing, Ma'am?
- Have you seen the way he looked at me?
(training officer drowned out by crashing)
- What uh,
- Did you see the way
he just looked at me?
- Yes, ma'am, what seems to be going on?
- She starts flipping out, she's bi-polar,
I mean, she's got her issues.
And when she gets that way,
she gets really physical,
and everything, she's scratched me.
- He grabbed me by the throat.
- Do you have any marks or anything?
- I don't know if I do
or not, I don't know.
- Have you considered
trying staying somewhere?
Over the night, seeing if it'll cool down?
- Mm, what's going on?
- Nothing, just finished up
my getting his statement.
So maybe it's play it safer,
just split them up for the night.
- Yeah.
- Come back in the morning.
- Yeah.
- See if we can't make
heads or tails of this,
who's lying, who's not.
- Thought they were done.
It's always police shit.
(Kit laughing)
- You're a good roller.
- Yeah, I know.
- As far as the whole,
splittin' them up, or taking one
of them to jail, I mean, what
should have been the call?
- You've got injuries on her neck.
Hers are more serious than mine.
Mine look like they
could be defensive marks.
You're probably walking away
from here with me in cuffs,
at that point.
- Since we couldn't establish
the primary aggressor,
we figured we'd err on the side of caution
and just split you up for the night.
- How do you feel like they did?
- I think you did fine.
One thing that, when we
was walking out the door,
didn't I say to you, "Did
you see how he looked at me?"
- I did.
- But, like he could,
Or she could.
- That was not so subtle.
- One of the other can,
- I saw you glance back,
especially when we came in.
- Oh, it was about
a five second stare, before
I walked out the door.
Basically, giving her notice.
- So what does he want to do?
What does this abuser want to do?
He wants to maintain
control over the situation.
So he's gonna have a
variety of different tactics
that he's gonna use, some
won't be obvious at all.
Some will be things like
the look, or maybe the way
he closes the door a little
bit harder, things like that.
And these are things
that she'll key off of,
he'll key off of, but I just ask y'all
to keep your eyes and ears open.
Because there could be
behaviors like that,
that will shut her down.
(slow guitar music)
(door creaking)
- Hello.
- Hey.
- Hello.
- Hello.
- How do you feel about telling people
about what happened in your case?
- Oh, it doesn't bother me too much.
- Mm-hmm.
- I feel like it helps.
- So let's start at the beginning.
What was it like when you
all first started dating?
- For the first two
months, he was really sweet
and nice, and then he kinda questioned
what I had done in the past.
And wanted to know who my friends were
and what I'd done with them.
And then, it started from there.
- This is Robbie?
- Yes, and that's
Martina's first Halloween.
On Halloween, he told me that I had to go
with him on his trucking trip.
And I told him no, that I had to work.
And he said I was gonna go,
that he wasn't gonna leave
me there to cheat on him.
And so he made me go and
when we got in Tennessee is
when he started beating me.
Martina, just, she
asked him over and over,
"Why are you doing it to my,
why are you hurting my mama?"
And he would tell her,
"She doesn't love you,
"and she doesn't love me,
it's okay to hurt Mommy."
And he would hit me with the flash light.
He hit me in the head, on
the shoulders, the elbows.
He would hit my knees so
hard that I could hardly
bend my legs.
- Mm-hmm.
- He would put, while he was
beating me, there was a little
mirror, about that big,
on the side of the truck.
And he would hit me, and
then he get me by the hair,
and pull me up and make
me look in that mirror
and ask me if it was worth it.
We stopped at one truck stop
to get him some meatballs.
And Martina said she wanted some.
And he said, "No, you can't have some
"until your mommy tells me the truth."
And he said, "And you can tell your mommy
to tell me the truth if you want some."
And so she started crying,
because she was really hungry,
and she told me to tell
her daddy the truth.
And I told her that I
had, and she was screaming
and begging me,"Please
tell Daddy the truth."
And that was so hard.
Robbie got one of them out of the pack,
and he looked at Martina,
and he held it in her face,
and he said, "Look, this
is gonna be so good."
And he took a bite of it and
was going, "Mmm, Martina,
"this is so good, and
just think, if your mommy
"had told me the truth,
you could had some."
It was just all I could take.
And I grabbed the flashlight,
and I was just gonna beat it.
I just couldn't stand
it, and I was just bound
and determined I was gonna beat him.
And when he saw me grab the flashlight,
he dropped the meatballs.
And when he did,
I grabbed the meatballs
and let him beat me
with the flashlight and while
I fed the meatballs to her.
And I didn't care how hard he hit me.
As long as she got those meatballs.
I didn't care, the whole time
that I fed those meatballs
to her, he hit me that flashlight.
And I could feel my knees
swelling, it was so hard
to hold on to them, but I
was bound and determined
that I was going to, and I did.
I wasn't gonna let my baby
starve because of him.
- He wasn't arrested until,
when was it, November 9th?
The charges were just
filed, assault on a female.
I just felt like why wasn't
there attempted murder?
- Mm-hmm.
- Deanna and I had met with
That DA, I think a week
or two before that.
- Mm-hmm.
- And he had told us
that she didn't have a very strong case.
Because most of her stuff
happened out of state.
The DA said that the Grand
Jury would ask Deanna why she
left, what was her reason
for leaving the county him?
Because at first, it was willing,
they would say she left willingly.
It was after she left North Carolina
that the beatings start.
So that they would completely
just turn back on her.
- Mm-hmm.
- And, basically,
he was gonna get off, on a state level,
for what had happened to her.
(slow music)
- I've seen cases like
this over and over again.
Where women are severely
beaten, sometimes shot,
and sometimes stabbed, and
the offender is charged
with assault on a female, or
assault with a deadly weapon.
Both charges charged as misdemeanors.
But we have a law on the books
that says that if you steal
a bale of pine straw, that's a felony.
Despite the fact that we'd
like to think that those laws
are outdated, the belief
systems behind those laws
are still very much a part
of the way things get played
out in court every day,
across the country.
(slow guitar music)
- So, it's kind of busy today.
- It is, this this an extremely busy day.
- [Kit] They're bringing
the guy over from jail.
- That's this one.
- Is that for
a restraining order violation?
- He was arrested for the same
incident that she took out
the DVP for.
- Oh, uh-huh, uh-huh.
- Yes, sir.
- I met with the DA's office
down the security report.
- [Judge] Thank you and we will come back
for this matter shortly,
and thank you for your
patience in that regard.
So that completes the call
of our Civil Calender,
is there anybody?
- So we're just trying to explain to her
what may happen today.
- Mm-hmm, what do you want to have happen?
- I just want him to stay
away from me that's all.
He gets out today, so I just want him
to stay away from me.
- Did he get picked up on Friday?
- No, he got picked up a week before last,
- It was Thursday,
- March 1st, and,
- Does he have a long history?
- Oh yeah, he's a felon, a big felon.
And this is third offense
assault on a female.
- With you, or with other women?
- Other women.
- [Lawyer] And just with her
case, there are three or four
felony charges.
- Three felonies.
- Do you have family close by?
- Yeah.
- So you feel,
when you're at home, you
feel like you're pretty safe?
- No (laughs).
- No.
- He's got it all.
- He's got friends.
- My worry is he's gonna get
- Her worry is more who he
knows or is going to ask.
- Some other people,
'cause his cousin lives
less than a mile from me.
- Does the judge know all this?
- No, not at all.
- No, she hasn't had a chance
to talk to him yet.
- Make sure that he knows all this stuff,
because the restraining
order's supposed to say
no third party contact, too.
- Yeah.
- So the, this sounds
fairly serious, don't be
afraid to say anything.
It's not your job to fix broken men.
- No, tell me about it.
(both laughing)
- A lot of us think that
it is, but it's not.
- Yeah, well (mumbling)
- I'm sorry.
- Well, thank you.
- Well, it was nice to meet you.
- Thank you, you too.
- All rise.
- Alright, we're here today
to address the matter of
a civil restraining order,
that would bar you from
having any contact.
What would you like to do,
would you like a moment
to talk to Ms. Kennabrou?
- Yes.
- Yes, sir.
- [Judge] Alright, thank you, yes, ma'am.
- It was a concern of Ms.
Morgan's that third party,
no third party contact be
allowed, and that'd be entered,
- [Judge] That would be the condition
of a DVPM.
- Okay
- [Ms. Morgan] He turned
around and looked at me,
with that, his look.
(slow music)
- Yes, ma'am, what's up?
- So, I wanna talk with you
a little bit about this case
in Ashe County, involving
a woman who was kidnapped.
Pretty severe beating.
- And when you say kidnapped, do you mean?
- Kidnapped.
- Okay, held against her will,
- Held against her will,
She and her daughter,
- Transported.
- She and her daughter were
taken out of the state,
and driven all the way to
California, and halfway back.
And the truck was stopped in Oklahoma.
This was in an 18-wheeler.
- Okay.
- And he beat her for 4 1/2 days.
- What kind of injuries does she have?
Holy crap.
- So, this is the injuries.
- What'd he use?
- His fists,
a Maglite flashlight, he bit her.
- Any internal injuries?
Or is it all, is it all tissue injury?
Soft tissue injury?
- Well, he also strangled her.
- Okay, do we have any
medical doctor who's gonna say
these are serious injuries?
'Cause in state court,
that's the tough part.
Is when we're talking
about soft tissue injuries,
when you don't have damage to
the spleen, internal injuries,
or cuts that require stitches.
Concussions can be serious injury.
- The local prosecutor called
this a misdemeanor assault.
- Okay, no.
- Yes.
- Okay, no, I would push felony charges,
probably for kidnapping,
if it's a Maglite,
a Maglite's a deadly weapon,
assault with a deadly weapon,
inflicting serious injury.
It's all about getting a medical
doctor to say on the stand,
"Yes, this is serious injury."
Is it serious bodily injury?
Sure, is it protracted pain and suffering
that she has suffered, yeah, I think so.
But even if we succeed on all levels,
what I'm telling you, Kit, is
that you may not be satisfied
with the amount of time
that they're gonna get
at the state level.
- If he was convicted only
of misdemeanor assault
on a female, even with doing this.
- Yep.
- What would he
be looking at as far as time?
- The most he could receive
is 150 days in jail.
- 150 days in jail for this.
- That's it.
So that's what I'm saying,
you have a clearer case
where he's transporting a
woman across state lines,
for the purpose of terrorizing
and assaulting her.
That is a federal case, all over.
And so what we need to do,
or what you need to do,
since it's not in my
county, is really push
and talk to the federal
prosecutor in that area.
In that district, which would
be the Western District.
And say, this is the case,
and get them interested in it.
I think they will be.
- Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
- I think they will be.
- Yeah.
(slow music)
- That's basically where
everything started that night.
Robbie just pulled up to the hospital,
in one of the lower parking lots.
He said if I screamed, the
security guards couldn't hear me.
And that's where he started his abuse.
I separated from him
because he was hitting me.
And then, he convinced
me, along with others,
that he had changed.
And I wanted to believe it.
And for my sake, and for Martina's sake,
I wanted Martina to have
a daddy, she missed him.
Let him back into our lives, and it was
the biggest mistake I ever made.
My parents are scared for me, really.
I feel they're scared for
me to be with anybody.
They don't, they're just
too overprotective now.
They were then, but now it's worse.
They're afraid Robbie's
family's gonna hurt me.
But I don't, I don't like
feeling like I'm pitied.
(slow music)
- Since you are the
nation's foremost expert
on strangulation assaults,
this looks to me like she
was pretty seriously assaulted.
- (coughing) Okay, so give
me a 30 second overview,
beginning with the fact, that
she is still living, correct?
- She's still alive, she and her daughter
were kidnapped by her husband.
He beat her from North
Carolina to California.
The truck was stopped in Oklahoma.
Now he was not arrested,
by the Oklahoma police.
They just told him that he
had to find his own way back
to North Carolina and that was it.
I mean, when you look
at Deanna's photographs,
as a strangulation
expert, what do you see?
- Alright (sighing).
Well, it's bad.
It's bad, one has to
immediately go to the petechiae
around her left eye and,
to a certain extent,
around her right eye.
The white part of her eye,
the sclera, looks bloody
towards the middle part, and
that even looks more like
a subconjunctival hemorrhage.
So that's the tiny little
capillaries in the white part
of your eye actually bursting
from the choke hold itself.
Any emergency physical would
be thinking, "Could she
have been strangled?"
- Mm-hmm.
- And that's in addition
to the other elements.
- Now, one of the things
that she has said to me
is that she had a seizure
disorder that was in check.
Until she was assaulted like this.
- If you're cutting off all
the blood supply to the brain,
which is one of the reasons you pass out
when you're strangled, if
you have a seizure disorder,
it's going to start evidencing
it's pathology again.
There should be a lot less
here, that would have even been
prosecuted with a third of this pathology,
a tenth of this pathology.
I can't process that, I can't.
(slow music)
(people chattering)
- Do you want a peanut
butter and jelly sandwich?
- Hmm?
- Do you want a
peanut butter and jelly sandwich?
- I'm gonna make some tuna.
- Okay.
- (laughs) Good girl.
- And then the bitch calls,
- Yep.
- The social worker called,
and wants to cover for Mike.
It was a miscommunication,
a fuckin' miscommunication,
my ass, is what went through by brain.
But, yes, Ma'am, I understand,
(people laughing)
thank you very much, I'll
see you in court on Thursday.
I've already called my
attorney, thank you.
- As the special order want.
- Let me ask you something.
- Okay.
- I felt fuckin' wonderful.
- What brought you home,
what brought you back here?
- That, one, you let me
come back home after I had
that nervous breakdown
that I had last weekend.
You let me come back home,
and you believed in me,
and you believed in me.
And these girls believed in me.
- That's right, and we believe in you.
- I'm able to stay sane.
- It's 'cause you're worth it,
don't ever let anybody tell you otherwise.
- I refuse to.
- Good.
- That's right.
- Fuck 'em.
- You know I'll say it.
- Be happy she is.
- That's why I'm here.
(rain spattering)
(wipers rocking)
- Here we go, North Carolina thunderstorm.
This case that I'm working
on right now involves a woman
who killed her abuser,
after a number of years
of real severe domestic violence.
What I'm gonna do today is go
down and meet with her sister.
And her sister, Regina, has
photographs of what Latina
looked like before she got
together with her boyfriend.
During the time that she was
with him, he puncher her in
the eye so many times that she's
now blind in her right eye.
And then I just wanna get a
sense of what we can all do
to try to support Latina.
She's charged with first-degree
murder, so she's looking
at spending the rest
of her life in prison.
(door clunking)
When were these pictures taken?
- Those pictures are like
eight or nine years ago.
- From eight or nine years ago.
Do you mind if I snap
pictures of this picture
with my phone?
- Mm-mm.
You've been to see her in jail, right?
- Mm-hmm.
- So you see
how beautiful she was here.
- Mm-hmm.
And then now, her eye looks like it does.
So she's told me several
times that she really
loved him a lot.
- Mm-hmm.
Because every time he beat up
on her, she still went back.
And we just asked her why
you wanna go through things like that.
- What'd she say?
- She said she love him.
- Uh-huh, your mom mentioned
to me that she'd gone through
a lot of stuff with your dad.
- Mm-hmm, my sister, she
told me that is why she is
the way she is right now,
because my dad used to beat up
on my mom all the time.
That's why she feel like she
don't want to leave Woody,
because she knows it's not
normal, but, in her mind,
it's normal to her, you
know what I'm saying?
- Mm-hmm.
- I kept telling my sister,
If you don't leave, he
gonna end up killing you.
And it was just shocking to know
that it happened the other way.
Because we cried plenty
of times on the phone,
talking about this, that he's
gonna kill her and all that.
I was hurt, because when
things like that happen,
you gotta survive.
- That's why he kept
that business so much.
Yeah, she was always scared
because he would always throw
that fist out, he done shot at her.
He done shot at her and my
cousin at the same time.
'Cause my cousin was sticking
up for her when he was about
to beat her up, and she
said, "No, you're not fittin'
"to beat her up in front of me."
So then he started shooting at them.
- Your cousin?
- My cousin, and they're
running down the path.
- See, this is the stuff.
- They're running down the pathway.
- This little stuff like this,
what's your cousin's name?
And see, if he'd have ever been arrested,
and gone to jail for what he was doing,
then maybe that would given her a break.
- I was thinking that, yeah,
one of the time, the last time,
when he beat her up
like really, really bad,
that he messed up her eye,
her ribs and all that.
I think he had a warrant
for his arrest for that.
- Right, right, but then he
was killed before they ever got
a chance to do anything with that.
- Yeah.
- Right.
If you can think of anybody
else that has, like this woman
that was with Latina when he
shot at them, please send me
that information, so that,
- Okay.
- we just, I wanna make
sure that when it's time
to go to court, that
everybody's real clear about how
dangerous he was, okay?
- Yeah, mm-hmm.
(rain spattering)
- So the Harnett County
judicial buildings are coming
up on the right-hand side.
The detention center's
back behind the courthouse,
and that's where Latina is.
Where she's been since last,
the end of last November.
And I've worked other cases
with women who have killed
their abusers and they've
told me that they feel safer
in prison than they ever felt
out in the world, with him.
Because he was so predatory and
the courts just didn't care.
I mean, I can think of all kinds of women
that I've talked to.
And they have told me that once
she killed him, and she went
to prison, that was the first
time in years she felt safe.
(rain spattering)
(wind rustling)
- In general, when we're
thinking about accepting a case,
one of the things we think
about, one of the things I think
about, is, how am I gonna prove this case?
And if it has to go to trial,
how am I gonna prove the case at trial?
What is my evidence gonna be
at trial and how will the jury
be affected by that evidence.
I mean, the pictures are just,
they say it better than any words can.
The fact that it seemed to
be a very good, viable case
A Violence Against Women Act case.
The interstate domestic
violence, we had the crossing
of the state lines, it seemed
like if we didn't do it,
nobody else was going to.
Because there were a lot of times
she didn't know where she was.
So she didn't know whether a
particular assault happened
in Oklahoma or New Mexico,
but we knew that she had
been forcibly taken from here.
So we could prosecute it here,
and if we didn't prosecute
it here, it may not have been
prosecuted any place else.
Because we didn't know where
the assaults were taking place.
So that also made it
compelling, if we weren't gonna
do anything, then maybe
nothing was gonna be done.
And something had to be done.
(slow guitar music)
- Hey there, we're just about there,
we're like five minutes away.
Alright, I'll see you in
a few minutes, bye-bye.
We're gonna go talk with
Deanna about how she's feeling
about court and about what's
it going to mean to her,
to be able to take the witness stand.
And say out loud what Robbie
did to her, and to Martina.
Are you nervous about testifying
or do you feel okay about it?
So what are you doing to prepare yourself?
- Just keep telling myself
that I know I can do it.
And I've got a lot of
people backing me up.
This is Deanna's thick
file, her case file.
District Attorney said that
a juror or defense attorney
may ask why she didn't call
someone and ask for help.
And Robbie had told her
not to pick up a phone
at the truck stop.
Stated that, many would
argue that she had the chance
to get away in Virginia,
when they stopped at
a truck stop for several hours.
- What do you think you'll
say when his defense attorneys
try to say things to you
like, "Why didn't you try
to get away?" Or, "Why
didn't you call the police?"
Or something like that?
- I was too scared.
There was lots of things,
ways, running through my mind.
Of how I could get away,
but I couldn't do it.
I was afraid I would wake him up,
if Martina had made a noise.
He would have instantly woke up.
And she had coloring books
and crayons, I thought
about tearing the back out
of one of the coloring books
and writing help me, and
sticking it behind the curtain.
Maybe people passing by on
the interstate would see it.
And call the law, and then,
again, I was afraid he would
see it and if he did see
it, he would probably have
instantly killed me.
And I never knew what
would happen to Martina.
- [Stacy] There were so many injustices
that I felt like happened with her.
Martina was removed in
Oklahoma from Deanna.
And that just, that really angered me.
- What was it like when
they came and took Martina?
- It destroyed me.
It took everything.
It was the hardest
moment in my whole life.
- [Kit] I bet, and how
often did you see Martina,
in the time that she
was taken away from you?
- Twice a week, for an hour.
(slow music)
- Come here, come here.
(squealing) Piggyback,
piggyback (squeals).
- Where are we going how?
I could talk to her on
the phone every night.
- [Kit] What kinds of
things did she say to you?
- Wanted to know why I gave her away.
And that, that was hard,
that was really hard.
I would tell her that she was staying
with the foster parents
so they could protect her.
(both laughing)
- I'm stuck, I'm stuck.
- She still asks me,
now, she still asks me
why I gave her away.
- So she remembers it.
- Yeah.
Wait up, wait up (laughs) wait up.
(birds chirping)
- [Man on recording] You don't
understand, I'm not over it.
I'm not over y'all coming 'round there,
and they thought they're
gonna testify against me.
I'm not over that shit.
I can't understand why my
daughters would go against me.
Don't ever go against me!
You understand what I'm saying?
Fucking go against me!
Never go!
Never fucking!
Never! Never, Never!
Fucking go against me!
Don't ever go
(smacking loudly)
fucking against me!
- Okay.
- You understand
what I'm saying?
- Yes.
- [Man on recording] I
kept having to get you
or my daughters, God damn it,
I'd never do that to my dad.
What's wrong with y'all?
Now am I a person that you fuck with?
I mean, seriously,
- No.
- [Man on recording] I
mean, look, look at me.
Just look at my face.
Is that a motherfucker
that you fuck?
Is that a fucker that you fuck with?
- [Woman on Recording] No.
- Is it?
- No.
- Who's gonna take care of you?
- [Woman on Recording] You are.
- [Man on recording] Who's
gonna fucking provide?
- [Woman on recording] You are.
- [Man on recording]
Who's the son of a bitch
that's stands in front
of the fucking monster
and keeps them from raping y'all?
- [Woman on recording] You did.
- I get calls from battered
women all over the country.
And emails, and this one
happens to be from a woman
who's married to a doctor,
a very prominent physician.
And they made this tape
not long after there was a
restraining order hearing,
but the female judge, who
knew that he was a doctor,
said, "Just let him come home,
"your house is big
enough for both of you."
And so it's just so frustrating
because we don't know
what's going on in
these gated communities,
in these expensive homes, until
something like this happens.
So I tore this up.
I tore this up, because
I was so angry about it.
It's a rough draft of a paper
that I turned it recently.
And the professor wrote
a note across the bottom.
So it made me mad and I tore it up.
(tape tearing)
Now I'm gonna put it back together again.
Kit, a very interesting discussion.
I have two recommendations,
first, you say in the beginning
that domestic violence, quote,
"touches all socio-economic groups."
I am not an expert in this field,
but my impression is that
domestic violence is more
common among poor, less educated people.
Most middle-class
persons, such as doctors,
lawyers and professors, et cetera,
do not beat their wives and children.
Nice, nice, but I'm going to save this.
Because this is a reminder
to me, that we have a long,
long, long way to go.
(both laughing)
(bike tires grinding)
- Whee! Whoa!
- Good.
This was my favorite photo of Martina.
It did have Robbie in it,
and of course, I cut it out.
It's just her, now, so.
Read it,
- First soccer practice.
Halloween, okay, I can't read that.
- Beware of ghosts and goblins.
- [Martina] Beware of ghosts and goblins.
(slow music)
(people chattering)
- Halloween of 2008.
Deanna and her husband were separated.
There had been a domestic
violence incident earlier
in the summer, they were living apart.
But, it was Halloween, and
Deanna decided that she was gonna
ask Robbie if he wanted
to go along with her
and their daughter,
trick-or-treating in downtown
West Jefferson, North Carolina.
They drove down, together,
to the downtown area.
But for some reason, Robbie didn't want
to get out of the car.
So Deanna took their
daughter trick-or-treating.
And when she came back to the
car, he was focused on the
fact that she may have been
talking to another male
while they were trick-or-treating,
and he became jealous.
And as the night progressed,
he was getting more angry and more angry.
He drove them down to a
secluded area of a parking lot
outside of the local hospital.
And so he was confronting
her, and hitting her,
and he eventually got out his lighter
and was hitting her ears with the lighter.
Basically trying to force her to confess
that she was involved with another man.
All the while, the daughter was asleep
in the back of the truck.
(mellow guitar music)
Finally, in the morning,
the daughter woke up,
and Robbie announced
that they were all taking
a cross-country truck trip.
He had a cousin who
co-drove the truck with him,
so the arrangement was that
he would meet his cousin,
John, to deliver this load to California.
They were being secret about
this because the truck company
had a policy against unauthorized riders.
And Deanna and the daughter
would be unauthorized riders.
(engine sputtering)
They eventually all get in
to this tractor trailer.
They drove across the
line from North Carolina
to Virginia, stopped at a truck stop.
Where, for a couple of
hours, Robbie and John played
the video poker machines,
while Deanna and the daughter
walked around the truck stop.
Deanna had no money, no cell
phone, didn't know anybody
up there, so she didn't alert anyone
that she was there against her will.
She got back into the truck,
they drove down into Tennessee.
And, again, Robbie becomes
obsessed with this idea
that she's cheating on him, so
he has John drive the truck.
He gets back in the cab, he
just started beating on her
and it was like the night
before, where he wanted to beat
her into confessing to cheating on him.
And, initially, she was
saying, "No, I'm not.
"I'm not cheating on you."
And he would beat her some more.
Well, finally, she decided
that that wasn't working,
so she was gonna admit to cheating on him,
hoping that that would get
him to stop beating her.
So she started saying, "Yes,
yes, I did cheat on you."
And then he started saying,
"Well, who, with who?
Gimme some names."
And so she just started
spouting off names of people
that they knew, so he
forced her to use his phone.
To call these people, that she was naming,
back home in North Carolina.
And so, people back in
North Carolina were getting
phone calls, in the middle of
the night, where she admitted
that she had cheated on Robbie.
She called a husband
and wife named the Guys,
told the wife, Hope, that
she had cheated with Mike.
But eventually Hope could tell
that something wasn't right.
Deanna's tone on the phone
calls, she sounded robotic.
Hope got the impression that
something was not right.
While the truck is traveling
west, and Robbie is continuing
to beat Deanna, and accuse
her of cheating on him,
people back home are starting
to figure out that something
is wrong, and they call
the trucking company.
And eventually alert them that there
are unauthorized people on the truck.
Well, 'til that happens,
they get to California,
drop off the load, they head back east.
John's driving, they're
heading towards Oklahoma.
And Robbie just, this is the
absolute worst beating of all.
- [Deanna] He headed me back
to the sleeper, of the truck,
and that's when he started
hurting me the worst.
And Martina was sitting there,
and he kept covering my face
with the pillow and he was
telling me that I wasn't gonna
make it back to West Jefferson.
And I couldn't breathe, and
when he realized that I wasn't
moving, he pulled the
pillow off of my face.
And he started laughing and he said,
"I almost got you that time, didn't I?"
And it was right after
that, that I started having
I had seizures, and I had three seizures.
And I could hear Martina screaming.
I couldn't see anything, I
could just hear her screaming.
And when I did stop, he pulled me up,
next to Martina, and I went to sleep.
And that was the first
time, the entire trip,
that I was able to sleep.
- Finally, the folks back
at home had gotten in touch
with the trucking company, and
they arranged for the truck
to be stopped.
(siren blaring)
It was pulled over by law
enforcement in Oklahoma,
but as the blue lights were
turned on, Robbie told Deanna
that they were gonna
tell the police when they
were stopped that he saved
her, from a boyfriend back in
North Carolina who had beaten her.
- I had received a call
that had a child in danger,
and we needed to do a
traffic stop on a semi.
So that's what I did.
And when I found what I found inside,
was the little girl and the mother.
In the 15 years I've been
a law enforcement officer,
I've never seen anybody
that's been in a car wreck
that was beat up as bad as that girl was.
Even if they was throwed out
of the vehicle, mangled up
in the vehicle, they still,
I've never seen anybody
that was in that kind of shape.
I truly believe if I hadn't
had stopped the vehicle,
I don't think they would
have ever come home.
The reason he wasn't detained
is because I didn't have
no proof of where it
had actually happened.
I had no paperwork
stating anything was out
of the ordinary or anything.
She wouldn't tell us who done it,
because of the fear factor.
I think she feared more for the child
than she did her own life.
That's why she didn't say.
- Once they were separated,
once she was in the car,
and away from him, she
told them that, in fact,
Robbie had been the
one who had beaten her.
The police could tell that
she was very badly beaten,
they took her to the hospital in Oklahoma.
- Deanna Howell presented
at my Emergency Room
in Anadarko Hospital,
in Anadarko Oklahoma.
When I first saw her, I was
horrified by her appearance.
Obviously, with every
movement that she made,
she was experiencing pain.
Initially, it was important
for us to clean her up,
as she was covered in dried blood.
And when I felt her
hair, it was very sticky
and very soiled, and I asked her,
at that point, what was in her hair.
Which she shared with me at that time,
it was Mountain Dew and urine.
And when I asked her
how that came to be,
she stated that he would throw his soda,
her ex-husband would throw
his soda in her face.
And that whenever he had to urinate,
he would hold her by the
ears and urinate in her face.
I took photos of Deanna
in the Emergency Room,
she obviously was still
in fear of her ex-husband.
And when I went out and asked
the officer, could he please
tell me where her was
ex-husband was located,
with the intent of finding out where he
was incarcerated, and being held at.
When he piped off to me that,
"He's somewhere between here
and North Carolina, I guess."
- Robbie was left at the
side of the road in Oklahoma
because she hadn't told
police before he left
that he was the one who beat her,
and he made his way
back to North Carolina.
Once he got back to North
Carolina, he was interviewed
by law enforcement, and
admitted to beating her so badly
that he almost broke his fingers, so.
(telephone ringing)
- Mm-hmm, I just wonder if
somehow his cousin got to her.
Because, with his cousin not
charged, he's really free
to do whatever, to intimidate
you, or intimidate her.
And I just wonder if that's part of,
if that's part of what's happening.
I mean, it might not be,
but it also might be.
So how's Martina?
- [Deanna] She's doing good (mumbling)
- Yeah, and that's gonna make it hard.
But, maybe what you can do
is you can take those strong
feelings that you've got,
and just really use those
to be crystal clear in court.
To just say the things
that you need to say, so the court
understands what he did to you.
Alright, well, Deanna,
have a really good day,
and I'm glad you called,
and I'll talk to you
in the next couple days, okay?
- Alright.
- Alright, bye, Deanna.
- [Deanna] Bye.
- Fucking Robbie.
(wind chimes tinkling)
(birds chirping)
Even with all the, there's
a lot of dark things
that happen up here,
like Deanna's case, but.
I do love these mountains.
That's Jack and Jason, that's October.
And he died the next August,
cleaning up an oil spill
in the Gulf of Mexico.
I look at that picture of
his hair shining in the sun.
And that was one of my jobs,
was to take care of his hair,
to make sure he didn't have split ends.
So that when he went out
(clearing throat) to go pick
up women, that one of the
things that would draw women
to him was his long, blonde hair.
He had a beautiful smile.
- [Producer] You stayed with this guy.
- Yeah, I didn't have choice.
I mean, he told me, and I absolutely,
that's the part that always,
it's so interesting to me.
When it's like, the standard
question, why didn't you leave?
Why didn't you leave,
why didn't you leave?
Well, he was trained by the
United States Marine Corps
to hunt people down and kill
them, and he told me if I left,
he would hunt me down and kill me.
That's why I didn't leave.
I used to pull what he would
call my disappearing acts.
And that would be, I would
get the boys and get out.
Because it just was getting too intense.
But I would always go back,
because at least I knew where he was.
At least I knew the routine,
I knew what to expect.
But it's a terrible way to live to always
be looking over your shoulder.
He also had good sides,
too, I mean, I remember,
being in the funeral
home looking at his body.
And starting at the top of
his head, and going down,
and thinking, looking at
his hands and thinking
that his hands were both
a weapon, and it was also
with his hands that he
taught me how to garden.
So it's not clean, it's complicated.
There's just a lot more
to it than people willing
to give women credit for.
This picture, that picture
right there, that picture
was taken the last day that he was nice.
On that one day, it was
a beautiful fall day,
and he said, "Let's go
ride up on the parkway."
And it was just so out of the ordinary.
But I was thrilled, that we
were gonna have a good day.
And it was a great day.
(slow music)
(birds chirping)
- It was just confirmed
that we were still on
and I'm told to be there at 8:30.
I am nervous about testifying.
I don't know, really, what,
I don't know what's going on.
I guess I'll find out this morning.
Everybody's telling me to
be strong, be truthful.
And that they're praying for me.
Yesterday, when I got up,
there was just something inside
of me, just this feeling
that I had, that I needed to,
after the trial is over, give
Robbie a picture of Martina.
I just want him to know,
pretty much, what he's missed.
And that he's missed a
lot in the last two years.
I mean, his daughter is
really growed up a lot.
And if he hadn't had done what he did,
he would have been there for it.
(tense music)
(footsteps clanking)
(light piano music)
I'm not gonna let him get
away with what he done to me,
my daughter, to other
women out there, who have,
I'm sure he's done it to.
Nobody should get away with this, nobody.
(door slamming)
(slow guitar music)
- I'm reading from a portion
of the trial transcript.
The defense lawyer stated in
his opening statement that what
really happened here was
they went on a family trip.
And it was a trip that she was willing
to go on, and happy to go on.
The government, I, argued that
it wasn't a voluntary trip.
That she was kidnapped
and beaten along the way.
And that the jury should find
him guilty of both counts,
the kidnapping and the
interstate domestic violence.
The government called the nurse
who saw Deanna in Oklahoma,
several of the people who had
received strange phone calls
from Deanna during the trip.
Deanna, of course, testified.
- [Kit] When Deanna
took the witness stand,
my heart was pounding.
Because I understood the
consequences of this trial.
If he were to be found not
guilty, he'd be back out on
the streets, and he'd be
a threat to her again.
But when I see what Deanna
has done, that she's faced
her abuser, she's walked
into federal court,
she's taken the witness stand.
I'm just completely
astonished at her courage.
- The jury made their decision
of guilty on both counts,
and I feel absolutely awesome (laughs).
I could feel the tears coming,
they didn't actually start
falling, but I could feel them coming.
They wanna come now (laughs).
I am so happy.
I will be glad to get home to Martina.
- I'll be glad for you
to get home to Martina,
I know she wants her mom home.
- Yes, she does.
- Yeah.
Robbie was sentenced to almost
21 years in federal prison.
But the sad and tragic
reality, is that the majority
of the time he serves will
be for kidnapping Deanna,
not for beating her.
I can't help thinking about
the fact that, after Robbie
kidnapped Deanna, and almost killed her.
That when she came back, she
had to listen to the DAs,
to the police, to the defense attorney,
and even her own family ask
her why she didn't just leave.
When, in reality, that's
precisely what she did do.
She left, and he retaliated
by kidnapping her,
and beating her for 4 1/2 days.
So she did what everyone wanted her to do.
And she almost paid for it with her life.
(slow guitar music)
I've been training advocates
for a lot of years.
Since the early, since 1990.
And I'm always so astonished
and moved at the people who
want to come into this movement,
and do this work, because
it's not easy work.
It can be heartbreaking and frustrating,
but it can also be unbelievably uplifting.
And you see things, and hear things
that you couldn't make up.
And you witness victims
shedding that skin,
and just leaving the violence behind.
It's just wonderful.
- We are at a place that I'm
looking at hoping to rent.
A new step, a new beginning.
Getting out of my parents house.
And starting over, a new life.
- The inside the house.
That blind does not pull straight anyway.
Well, the lady said to
tell you she's packing up,
moving, so there's stuff sitting around.
This is the bedroom,
stuff sitting in here.
And the chest of drawers.
And self-cleaning oven,
you have a refrigerator,
washer and dryer, commode.
Big, good shower, tub.
That's it, plus the beautiful view.
- Yes, I've already saw that, I love it.
- Parkway that way,
Grandfather Mountain, that way.
You can see Grandfather Mountain today.
Some days you can't see
it, when it gets real hazy,
but you can see it good today.
- [Deanna] I love it.
It's perfect.
(mellow guitar music)
(uplifting music)
(tone reverberating)
(static huming)