A 30-year-old Arlington woman was acquitted Friday in the death of her boyfriend
last year during a fight in which his throat was cut.
Relatives of defendant Sherita Nicole Baker screamed and applauded late Friday when a Tarrant County jury cleared her of all charges in the June 1, 2009, death of Chad Stanley, 26, whose throat was slashed by a piece of glass, police and prosecutors said.
Despite an admonishment by Criminal District Court No. 4 Judge Mike Thomas, the celebration by Baker's family continued after Thomas had jurors taken back to the jury room. And Stanley's distraught family sobbed while demanding an explanation from prosecutors Sean Colston and Michelle Dobson.
"Are you serious?" one woman asked Colston. "Five stab wounds and not guilty? This is crazy."
Victim assistance coordinators escorted the family to a locked waiting area, where they met with prosecutors. They declined to comment.
"I'm just stunned and shocked," Colston said.
Baker, who after the verdict hugged her attorney, Leon Haley, declined to comment, as did her family. Haley and co-counsel Roderick White said the jury affirmed Baker's insistence that Stanley's death was an accident that occurred while she was defending herself.
Jurors had the option of convicting Baker of murder, manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide. They deliberated nearly seven hours before acquitting her.
Baker testified that frequent fights with Stanley sometimes turned physical. On this occasion, she said, they were throwing things at each other.
After Stanley threw a picture frame at her, she said, she picked up a broken glass and threw it at him. The glass caused a deep gash, and Baker called 911 as he bled.
In the 20-minute tape played for the jury, Baker screamed hysterically for help and repeatedly pleaded with Stanley to "fight, baby ... stay with me."
In cross-examination, Colston said that Baker's stories were inconsistent, that she alternated between saying she threw or pitched the glass. He had her demonstrate how she threw the glass in what appeared to be an underhanded pitch.
Colston suggested that Baker actually came up behind Stanley and slashed his throat with the broken glass. Deputy Medical Examiner Gary Sisler said that the throat injury couldn't have been caused by thrown glass, but that it had to be a deliberate slash.
Haley said Baker never denied killing Stanley. But she didn't mean to, he said.