CLARKSVILLE, TN - A jury in Tennessee found 52-year-old Karen Jeffries guilty of assault charges after she dumped a pot of hot oatmeal on her husband.
Back in 2011, Jeffries was arrested after she dumped a hot pot of oatmeal on her husband, Douglas Jeffries, while he was sleeping in a chair. Douglas would suffer second- and third-degree burns to to his back, chest and shoulder.
Karen Jeffries was charged with reckless aggravated assault, but has always maintained her actions were made in self-defense. Testifying in her own defense, Karen told the jury that on the night before the incident, the couple were on their way to Bible Study when Douglas confronted her about going through his cell phone.
She actually had gone through his cell phone, she said, but only because she suspected her husband was dealing drugs and she was looking for proof. The following morning, she says her husband began questioning her about his cell phone again, stating he was going to hurt her if she didn’t tell the truth.
“He was angry. I don’t know if it was work-related, personal or I’d made him mad. He was a little more aggressive to me. He kept saying I better fess up,” Karen Jeffries said. “I’m not one to argue back, so I just sat there. He said, ‘I know you’ve done something, so if you go ahead and fess up, it will be a lot easier for you.’”
She says Douglas then lunged at her from his chair, so she retaliated with the only weapon she had at her disposal; his oatmeal. After trying to run from him, she claimed Douglas grabbed her and began beating her.
“He gets on top of me, and he’s got my head in a lock,” she said. “He’s slamming me on this side and jugging my jaw here. And I know I’m not going to make it, and he’s on top of me, and at that point in time, that’s about 230 pounds right about here…I heard my ribs crack, and they were breaking.”
Douglas has a slightly different story, stating he was sleeping in a chair when his wife dumped the oatmeal on him. He says he jumped up and went to find a phone to call 911, but slipped on the floor. That’s when Karen hit him over the head with a frying pan. It was after this point that he says that, yeah, he roughed her up a bit.
“At the same moment she went at me, I went at her,” Douglas Jeffries said. “I was on the ground. I got on top of her to control her because she was going crazy. I’m freaking out because I’m burning up. Stuff was on me. … we are tussling. I grabbed her head and hit it on the floor a couple times to calm her down.”
During the trial, the jury listened to both 911 calls placed by Karen and Douglas, and saw the wounding pattern of Douglas’ burns that showed his right arm was at his side when he the oatmeal was poured on top of him. This fact, according to prosecutors, contradicted Karen’s allegation that he was lunging at her when she burned him.
After only three hours of deliberation, the jury found Karen Jeffries guilty of reckless aggravated assault. She will be sentenced on May 14 and is looking at 2-4 years behind bars.