116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Tremaine Williams didn’t have a pulse and wasn’t breathing as he was lying on the floor with a single stab wound to his upper chest and his girlfriend was sitting over his “bloodied” body, a prosecutor said Thursday.
“There was blood on the carpet and spread over the walls,” Assistant Linn County Attorney Andrew Powers said during his opening statement in the first-degree murder trial of Jacqueline Holmes, 38, of Cedar Rapids.
Holmes, who told police she was Williams’ fiancee, called 911 March 4, 2020, but she was hysterical and the dispatcher couldn’t understand her. Holmes wouldn’t say what had happened, though eventually she said a person wasn’t breathing.
The dispatcher attempted to walk Holmes through CPR, but Holmes said she’d already tried and couldn’t because of the man had a “deep wound” to his shoulder. Holmes says she doesn’t know how it happened. He “just started bleeding.”
Powers said six 911 calls came before that one, starting at 4:14 a.m., from 727 Eighth Ave. SW. It appeared Holmes didn’t intend to make the emergency calls. She would hang up, and the dispatcher would call her back. The last call — seven minutes after the first call — was when the dispatcher received some information.
This is the second time Holmes is being tried in the death of WIlliams, 35. A judge declared a mistrial in the first trial in May when a potential juror told another juror about a previous interaction they’d had with Holmes.
Powers, during his opening statement, told the jurors they will hear how Holmes repeatedly changed her story about what happened the morning of the stabbing.
Holmes told an investigator that she was bringing food to WIlliams, who was bleeding. She thought maybe he had hurt himself. She thought he had been shot. Then she said she never intended to hurt him.
Holmes also said Williams hit and kicked her and that she had stabbed him in self-defense. She then backtracked and said she hadn’t done that.
Williams died from blood loss, an autopsy showed, Powers said. Numerous knives were found in the house, including a knife with wooden handle, which a medical examiner will testify is the most likely murder weapon.
Lindsay Gardner, one of Holmes’ lawyers, in her opening statement said Holmes was a battered woman and that she had stabbed Williams in self-defense after he had threatened, punched, kicked and threw her to the floor. She was “traumatized and bleeding.”
Holmes, as “so many battered women feel,” never meant to hurt him, Gardner said.
Holmes repeatedly told a police investigator that she had been attacked by Williams, but the investigator minimized her pain and didn’t believe her trauma, Gardner said. Holmes said Williams threw her to the floor and then grabbed a knife, so she took the knife from him and stabbed him in the shoulder to get away from him.
Williams did walk away, and Holmes went into the bathroom and shut the door, Gardner said. Then, Holmes called for her, and she was holding him when she called 911. But Holmes was confused and couldn’t tell that dispatcher what was going on.
Gardner said Holmes told the investigator she’d been abused. She said Williams would get mad at her when she didn’t pay attention to him. That night, he punched her in the back of the head when she gave him a plate of food.
Gardner said Holmes had a cut on her mouth, a swollen, bloody lip, a cut finger and bruises on her legs from being pinned down. She also told a nurse that she had a “pain in her head.”
Holmes didn’t intentionally kill Williams, Gardner said. Doesn’t it seem “reasonable,” she asked, that Holmes was defending herself from a man with a knife and that she would stab him once in the shoulder to “get him off of her.”
Three witnesses testified Thursday.
Jenny Williams, of Ankeny, a former 911 dispatcher for the Cedar Rapids Police Department, testified about the six 911 calls she handled March 4.
Williams said she couldn’t find out what had happened from Holmes. Holmes was crying and on the third call she heard Holmes say “Baby, breathe.” One time she could only hear breathing but didn’t know if it was a medical call or something else.
Williams said it was important to get information if someone is bleeding and she needed to know what was going on, so she could render the correct aid to help. All she knew was “a man was down and possibly bleeding.”
Two others who testified said Holmes was their sister-in-law and that they didn’t know of any issues between Holmes and Williams. Both witnesses had been at the house that night and said they were all drinking and that they didn’t see Holmes and Williams fighting.
On cross-examination, the two admitted they didn’t know Williams that well and hadn’t been around him much.
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