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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — A retired Illinois law and psychology professor who now testifies in cases involving domestic violence testified Tuesday that Jacqueline Holmes, who is on trial for fatally stabbing her boyfriend in 2020, was a battered woman and suffers from its effects.
Karla Fischer, a research-based psychologist, said she interviewed Holmes in January and February for about 14 hours in different video sessions and reviewed the evidence in the case, including police and medical reports from Cedar Rapids, Chicago and Indiana, to provide her opinion.
The defense is arguing Holmes, 38, fatally stabbed her boyfriend, Tremaine Williams, 35, on March 4, 2020, because he beat her.
Fischer said Holmes told her about three men who had physically abused her, including Williams. Holmes said Williams kicked, punched and choked her. There was a medical report but no police reports to corroborate the incidents.
Chicago police reports corroborated Holmes’ account about a man who had punched her in the face and head and broke her jaw, Fischer said.
Police reports from Indiana and Cedar Rapids tell of another man who hit Holmes in the head and strangled her, and she had a laceration on her face from another attack, Fischer said. When Holmes moved to Cedar Rapids, the man followed her, broke into her apartment, stole her key and then came back later, grabbed her, pushed her against a wall and threatened to kill her.
Fischer also testified in general terms about how battered women react or behave and how domestic violence affects them.
She said it’s common for women in violent relationships to not call the police. They typically are not good at providing a history of their abuse. Many victims can’t retrieve traumatic memories, which are stored in the brain like fragments they may not be able to retrieve in order.
Tyler Johnston, one of Holmes’ lawyers, asked if most people tend to remember the events right after they happen.
Fischer said that was true except if they are memories of traumatic events. Women who are battered will have a traumatic reaction — a fight or flight response — and don’t remember what actually happened. In some cases, she said, they might remember a stabbing or shooting a gun but may not remember pulling the trigger.
Holmes, during a video recorded police interview that was played for jurors Monday and Tuesday, said Williams had hit her, which is why she stabbed him, but didn’t provide details. She then recanted her statements. She also said she didn’t know why Williams was bleeding and suggested he had been shot.
Fischer said women who are battered sometimes make up stories that make no sense.
Johnston asked Fischer how she can determine if someone is telling the truth.
Fischer said there’s no lie detector test. She bases her analysis on her training and experience. She asks open-ended questions to allow victims to provide details.
On cross-examination, Assistant Linn County Attorney Jordan Schier asked Fischer in the past four years — when she has been testifying mostly for the defense in trials — how many women she had determined were not victims of domestic violence.
Fischer said she’d made that determination in four cases and had determined abuse had occurred in 35 cases.
Schier asked if some domestic violence victims come forward and tell police about being abused. Fischer said that was true.
Schier said even if a medical report indicates injuries, that doesn’t necessarily corroborate abuse. Fischer agreed.
The defense will wrap up its case Wednesday, with closing statements following or on Thursday.
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