Gilbert wife accused of murdering husband 'afraid'

A 27-year-old woman being held on murder charges said she killed her husband in self defense

GILBERT, Ariz. - Jennifer Smith, 27, who is accused of shooting and killing her husband while sitting in a parked car in a Gilbert neighborhood Saturday night, said she was "afraid" of her husband, according to court paperwork released Tuesday. 

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Smith told officers she thought he may have retrieved a handgun from the trunk of the car, although she admitted she did not see her husband in possession of a gun at the time of the shooting. 

The court paperwork states that she had an order of protection, but the computer was down at the time and officers couldn't verify that. 

According to court records, Jennifer and Paul Smith were in the middle of a divorce, with a resolution management conference scheduled for next month. 

Records show Jennifer petitioned for an order of protection in December, 2015, but did not appear in court. 

Paul Smith was shot at least two times, once each in the chest and in the leg. 

Jennifer Smith was booked on a charge of a second-degree murder. 

Court records show Jennifer Smith was granted sole legal decision-making authority of the couple's two young children late last year.

"Due to husband's domestic violence and drug abuse, wife should be awarded sole legal decision-making of the minor children," an attorney representing Jennifer Smith wrote in September 2015 in a motion filed with Maricopa County Superior Court.

Court records also show that Jennifer Smith said she was hospitalized in June of 2015 after Paul Smith hit her in the face with a water bottle while she was driving a car with their children in the back seat.

"Mother did not press charges because she did not want the police to arrest Father in front of the children," the motion filed by Jennifer's attorney states.

A longtime criminal defense attorney says the shooting victim's history could impact legal proceedings for Jennifer Smith moving forward.

"If this case were to go to trial, the jury would be instructed that they are allowed to consider the previous history of abuse and domestic violence against Jennifer," said Russ Richelsoph, a criminal defense attorney at Davis Miles law firm in Tempe.

Copyright 2016 KPNX


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