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June 6, 2022

Sleeping with the Enemy | Cup of Joe

Sleeping with the Enemy - Violence At Home | Cup of Joe

Joseph D. Nohavicka

We…Are…Live! 

Summer’s around the corner and the Johnny Depp trial is finally over! Like all trials, there was a winner and there was a loser. And after enduring a six-week celebrity trial, the jury believed that Johnny’s ex-wife lied about being a victim of domestic violence.  We will have to see what effect this very public case has on actual victims of domestic violence.  

Keeping with that theme, this week’s case is about domestic violence. 

You are going to hear about a Buffalo woman who has been charged with the fatal stabbing of her husband in front of a YMCA on Main Street in Rochester.  Her name is Jennifer Pryor, and, at the time, she was 32. Her husband, Roger Pryor, was 26 years old.

Jennifer claims that she was a victim of domestic violence.  This is her trial.

Can you put the Depp case out of mind when you are deciding this case?  Give it a shot:  Read and decide.

Domestic Violence

TESTIMONY OF POLICE

DETECTIVE: The incident happened shortly after midnight on Saturday at 444 East Main Street --- the call to police originally came in as a shooting but the victim was found stabbed at least once in the upper body on the sidewalk in front of the of the Carlson MetroCenter YMCA branch.

PROSECUTOR: What was the condition of the victim?

DETECTIVE: He was pronounced dead at the scene.

PROSECUTOR: What information did your investigation yield?

DETECTIVE:  We determined that the couple had come to Rochester for a concert, and ended up in a dispute at a Wendy's after Roger, the husband, who was legally intoxicated and unlicensed, backed their Jeep into another vehicle. That prompted a police call, and a confrontation ensued at the restaurant between the couple.

PROSECUTOR: What happened next?

DETECTIVE Shortly thereafter, the fatal confrontation happened on East Main Street, when Jennifer Pryor was driving the Jeep.


TESTIMONY OF JENNIFER

JENNIFER Roger was very abusive towards me. I had been abused by Roger since 2012. I had once gone to a battered woman's operation in Buffalo, and also once secured an order of protection on him.

PROSECUTOR: I see here that Roger's record includes several instances of domestic violence arrests for violence against you and a former girlfriend of his;  but, I also see that Roger had also once gone to a Buffalo hospital, claiming he'd been assaulted by you.

JENNIFER: I was defending myself. He did get hurt.

PROSECUTOR: So, you and Roger got into a fight after there was an accident with your Jeep?

JENNIFER: Roger was blaming me and getting crazy.

PROSECUTOR: So you stabbed him, Right? In the chest?

JENNIFER: I did. To protect myself. He was trying to strangle me.

PROSECUTOR: And then you stabbed him again, right? This time in the neck?

JENNIFER: Like I said, he was abusive and he was going to hurt me. You saw the photo of my arm severely bruised.

PROSECUTOR: Isn’t it true, Jennifer, that you had to be subdued and taken to the ground earlier while arguing with security guards at the concert and the bruises could have come from that forceful interaction?

JENNIFER: That’s a lie!

PROSECUTOR: And when you were taken to the hospital for those injuries, you didn’t tell anyone who treated you that the injuries were caused by Roger, right?

JENNIFER: Like I said, I was upset.

PROSECUTOR: And at some point, you were questioned about this incident by the police?

JENNIFER: That is true.

PROSECUTOR: And you told an officer what happened, right?

JENNIFER: I did.

PROSECUTOR: But when the officer asked you why you stabbed Roger a second time, you remained silent, right?

DEFENSE COUNSEL: OBJECTION. The prosecutor cannot comment on the defendant’s right to remain silent.

PROSECUTOR: The defendant was not silent, Your Honor. She was already providing the officer with her side of the story.

JUDGE: OVERRULED.  You may continue.

PROSECUTOR: But when the officer asked you why you stabbed Roger a second time, you remained silent, right?

JENNIFER: I was nervous.  It was sounding bad to me. I got scared.


CLOSING STATEMENT BY ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY MEREDITH VACCA:

The evidence has shown that the relationship between Jennifer and Roger was sometimes violent, nasty — and ultimately lethal. They both were, at moments, aggressive.

There is no question that Jennifer stabbed Roger to death.

But the questions that you have to answer are as follows:

Was Jennifer a victim of sustained domestic violence, and was her husband trying to strangle her in the couple's Jeep when she twice stabbed him? 

I trust you will do the right thing.


QUESTIONS FOR YOU:

WAS JENNIFER’S USE OF VIOLENCE AGAINST ROGER JUSTIFIED? (Should Jennifer be punished?)

YES

or

NO

What's the outcome? Make your decision and let us know on social media!


WHAT THE JURY DID

NO PEEKING

The jury found Jennifer GUILTY of manslaughter in the first degree

State Supreme Court Justice Francis Affronti sentenced Jennifer Pryor to 14 years in prison and five years post-release supervision.


THE APPEAL

Jennifer’s lawyers appealed the decision.

They argued that the evidence was not sufficient to disprove Jennifer’s justification defense; and, that the sentence was harsh.

The appellate court did not agree with Jennifer’s lawyers.

The jury was entitled to credit the testimony of the People's witnesses and to consider the many inconsistencies between Jennifer's testimony at trial and her statements to medical personnel and the police, among others, and we perceive no reason to disturb the jury's credibility determinations in that regard

The jury was also entitled to conclude that the physical evidence failed to support Jennifer's versions of the events during and preceding the fatal stabbing, and we are satisfied that the jury's rejection of the justification defense was not contrary to the weight of the evidence.

Finally, the court found that the sentence is not unduly harsh or severe. 

The jury did not believe that the domestic violence did not play any role whatsoever in Jennifer’s case.

How did you do?  Did the Depp trial influence your decision?

Was justice served?  Let us know.

And we’ll see you next time.


Read the full case here.

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