Murder Trial Reveals Serious Issues - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

08/17/05 - San Augustine

Murder Trial Reveals Serious Issues

by Donna McCollum

The elements of a murder trial in San Augustine County reveal some very serious issues from alcohol abuse to spousal abuse.

Two years ago, Williard Conner was shot four times with a .38 caliber pistol by his wife Nina Conner. A jury has to determine if it's murder or self defense.

Close friends of Nina say she had to do it or die herself. Melissa Elizalde has been Nina Conner's friend for 17 years. "I really feel like Nina was to the point where she felt like it was going to be him or her that day, and it was strictly self defense."

Conner claims she was the victim of years of abuse. Williard drank heavily at times and was also taking prescribed pain medicine. However, Nina drank too.

Tisha Salter was a neighbor for about five of the six years that the couple was married. She said the fights would begin after Williard drank. "Things would be throwed [sic] out in the yard. Plants. Just a lot of fighting." Salter said she never actually saw physical abuse, but always suspected it. "I would always see her afterwards. She would have black eyes, bruises up and down her arms."

Williard Conner's son, Mike Conner, did see some fights, but says his father was the victim of abuse as well. "I've seen her just hit him with a four-way -- a tire iron -- for no reason. It takes two." Conner wants to see his stepmom punished, but even he has difficulty understanding the relationship.

Conner said, "My dad was just tired of the arguing. He loved Nina with all his heart, but he didn't like the fighting and arguing."

Yet, it continued. Nina would never leave. Her friend Elizalde said, "She felt like she had nowhere else to go with her and her children, and there was nowhere else to go to."

It's a common feeling of abused women, and it's used in their defense when the escape is to kill.

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