Potential Self-Defense Law Addresses Abuse Victims

Poughkeepsie woman Nicole Addimando, who was convicted of killing her boyfriend, is attempting to be resentenced under The Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act (DVSJA). 

On April 12, Addimando was found guilty in the murder of her boyfriend and father of her children, Christopher Grover. Addimando claims she did it in self-defense after years of abuse and torture. Addimando was convicted of second-degree murder and admitted to shooting Grover in September 2017 and faces a maximum sentence of 25-years-to-life in prison. She was also convicted of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon. However, if resentenced under the DVSJA, Addimando may only face 5 to 15 years in prison. 

According to The Poughkeepsie Journal, both forensic psychologists for the defense and the prosecution “agreed Addimando had suffered physical injuries and had been beaten.” However, according to the prosecution’s forensic psychologist, the abuser had not been officially determined to be Grover.

Before the murder, a Child Protective Services (CPS) visit was made to Addimando and Grover’s home on Sept. 17, 2017 because of an anonymous complaint that “reported Addimando had bruises on her [and] since they had two small children, the agency said it was launching an investigation.” 

Grover was murdered within 24 hours of the CPS visit.

Prosecutor Chana Krauss argued that Addimando shot Grover in the head while he was asleep on the couch. However, Addimando claimed that Grover had just threatened to kill her and himself, and feared for her life. 

While according to The Poughkeepsie Journal, Addimando testified that when Grover got home from work that night, she told him to let her leave with their children, then Grover got his gun. 

“He started telling me that he [could] kill me in my sleep,” Addimando testified, according to the article.

However, before Grover’s body was found, “a series of web searches was conducted from his phone, looking for answers on whether police could tell if someone had been sleeping when shot, among other things,” a Poughkeepsie Journal article said. However, defense claimed that there is no evidence supporting that Addimando had made these searches.

According to The Poughkeepsie Journal, Addimando had been choKed multiple times, put into headlocks, bitten and once had her face stepped on—all at the hands of Grover. 

During the trial, the jury saw pictures of Addimando’s injuries, including “burn marks, bruises and a bite mark,” according to The Poughkeepsie Journal. 

Addimando appeared last month in a Dutchess County court on Sept. 9 and her next court date is scheduled for Nov. 27. For the resentencing process, Addimando’s defense must submit their final statements by Wednesday, Oct. 16. Then the Putnam County District Attorney’s Office wiLL have until Nov. 13 to submit a response, according to The Poughkeepsie Journal.

The DVSJA was signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on May 14 and allows “judges to sentence domestic violence (DV) survivors convicted of crimes directly related to the abuse they suffered to shorter prison terms and, in some cases, to community-based alternative-to-incarceration programs instead of prison.” 

The act also provides the opportunity for currently incarcerated DV survivors to apply for resentencing in “narrowly defined circumstances, thereby granting much-deserved relief for incarcerated survivors who pose no threat to public safety.”

Incarcerated DV survivors are eligible if they’re sentenced to eight or more years in prison, “if they were sentenced as a first or second felony offender,” if their offense was committed before Aug. 12, 2019 and they were not convicted of first-degree murder, aggravated murder, terrorism or a sexual offense.   

According to the DVSJA website, 93% of women convicted of killing an intimate partner have been abused by said partner in the past and, “the New York State Department of Correctional Services found that 67% of women sent to prison in 2005 for killing someone close to them were abused by the victim of their crime.”

Tara Manning, a fourth-year history major with a Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies minor and president of Take Back the Night, believes that survivors of domestic violence (DV) should be tried differently because of the trauma that comes with being abused.

“People are able to claim acts as ‘crimes of passion,’” Manning said. “But DV survivors are just trying to scrape out a safe existence.”

“As a survivor of assault and relationship abuse, I would have done anything to escape my abuser,” said Paige Blayne, third-year psychology major with a Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies minor and president of Feminist Collective. “The justice system is biased against survivors…Now is the time for that system to be changed and allow survivors a time to live and thrive rather than pushing them farther into being victims and sweeping their abuse under the rug.”

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About Nikki Donohue 88 Articles
Nikki Donohue is a fourth-year double major in history and journalism. This is her sixth semester with The Oracle. She has worked as a News Copy Editor and an Assistant Copy Editor.