Crime

Wife claims self defense in husband’s shooting death; attorney says she was abused

'He came at her and she fired at him until he stopped,' attorney says of wife charged with murder in husband's death

Tenita Shoats is charged with murder in the Jan. 22, 2017, shooting death of her husband, Vernon Shoats Sr., at their Hidden Lakes Apartment home. A judge granted her $100,000 bond Thursday, Feb. 8, 2017, during a hearing in Bibb County Superior C
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Tenita Shoats is charged with murder in the Jan. 22, 2017, shooting death of her husband, Vernon Shoats Sr., at their Hidden Lakes Apartment home. A judge granted her $100,000 bond Thursday, Feb. 8, 2017, during a hearing in Bibb County Superior C

The lawyer representing a woman charged with murder in her husband’s Jan. 22 shooting death argued Thursday that his client acted in self defense.

Tenita Shoats’ relationship with her husband, Vernon, included a “long history of physical violence” in which Tenita Shoats was the victim, Chief Macon Circuit Public Defender Rick Waller said during a bond hearing in Bibb County Superior Court.

A former co-worker has confirmed Shoats, 45, showed up at work with physical injuries and later disclosed her husband had abused her, Waller said.

Shoats stood alone at a podium during the brief hearing, leaning on a purple cane with her hands handcuffed. After hearing arguments from both sides, the judge granted Shoats a $100,000 bond.

On the night he died, 43-year-old Vernon Shoats pointed a gun at his wife and threatened to kill her inside their Hidden Lakes Apartment unit off Mercer University Drive, Waller said.

After stepping on the family’s dog, he became distracted and put the gun down on a table. Tenita Shoats picked up the gun and told her husband to stay away from her, Waller said.

“He came at her and she fired at him until he stopped,” the attorney said.

He came at her and she fired at him until he stopped.

Attorney Rick Waller

Prosecutor April Herbert said a man at the apartment complex heard a gunshot, and saw Tenita Shoats run outside and bang on a neighbor’s door.

Herbert said the witness said he didn’t hear an argument. Waller said there wasn’t any loud talking or yelling.

An initial police report alleged the couple had argued about her having a friend over and that they’d pushed each other.

Tenita Shoats reportedly asked her husband if he’d taken his post-traumatic stress disorder medicine and he’d said he hadn’t.

When police arrived, Vernon Shoats unresponsive and they tried to revive him, Herbert said.

Tenita Shoats was standing near the door with a neighbor. She was crying, the prosecutor said. Shoats kept saying her husband had PTSD and that he was always “jumping” on her, Herbert said.

She was arrested that night and has been held at the county jail without bond.

Waller said his client has family ties to the community and doesn’t have a criminal history.

But Herbert said Shoats is a flight risk because she could face life in prison without the possibility of parole if she’s convicted.

Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report.

Amy Leigh Womack: 478-744-4398, @awomackmacon

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