Catina Curley finally gets new trial after life sentence for killing abusive husband

Catina Curley was sentenced to life without parole for shooting her husband during an argument after he abused her and her children for 10 years.

A New Orleans woman who has been serving a life sentence for killing her abusive husband is finally getting a new trial, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

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Catina Curley had been abused for years by her husband, Renaldo. She had been beaten so many times that her children had lost count, the report says. On March 30, 2005 – five months before Hurricane Katrina – Curley shot her husband in the chest with a .357 Magnum, killing him instantly.

Curley was charged with 2nd Degree Murder and what followed was a trial delayed by Katrina then beset with poor legal representation.

According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Curley had two different lawyers and each only made matters worse.

Curley’s original attorney, Lon Burns, had his client plead not guilty at her arraignment on Aug. 9, 2005. Ten days later, Burns had that plea withdrawn and entered a new plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. John Fuller took over in September 2006 and made his oral motion to drop the insanity plea five months later, on the eve of her trial on Feb. 26, 2007.

Fuller also never called an expert on battered woman syndrome to the stand. Despite Curley’s children testifying that their father was abusive, the running narrative was that Curley murdered her husband in a jealous rage and that there were no reported incidents of domestic violence in their relationship.

Curley was eventually convicted and sentenced to life without parole. After nearly nine years, her conviction was overturned on the basis that she had gotten poor legal representation.

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Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, who has is known for questionable practices involving subpoenas of witnesses, successfully appealed the ruling but last month, the Louisiana Supreme Court ultimately ruled in Curley’s favor.

The court, citing the Sixth Amendment, recognized that battered woman’s syndrome can justify the use of self-defense and found that Fuller “failed entirely to investigate the proper way to defend” Curley and ruled that she was entitled to a new trial.

Curley was released on $1,000 bond as she currently awaits a new trial.

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