Free Lance-Star reporter Robyn Sidersky covers Caroline County government and schools. You can reach her at 540/374-5413 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow coverage on Facebook or Twitter as well.
Jury: Woman not guilty of murdering husband
A Caroline County woman who has been charged for nearly 10 years in the shooting death of her husband was cleared of any wrongdoing today.
Melissa Foxx, 42, was found not guilty of first degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.
A jury of eight women and four men deliberated for about four hours on Friday night and an additional four hours on Saturday morning before reaching a unanimous decision.
Foxx was accused of shooting 43-year-old Elliot “Benny” Foxx in the stomach during an argument at their Ruther Glen home on May 25, 1997.
The incident was first reported as an accidental shooting, but Melissa Foxx was charged three years later, in 2000, after a medical examiner said her videotaped demonstration of what happened conflicted with forensic evidence.
Fox testified Friday that her husband of six years came home drunk sometime after midnight and started beating her with the wooden handle of a loaded 12-gauge shotgun. She said he was upset because she didn’t have dinner ready for him when he got home.
Foxx said he struck her on the legs several times while she was lying in bed, and while she was pushing the gun away, it went off.
Prosecutors argued that Foxx’s story, which she admitted to lying a few times about what happened, didn’t match up with other evidence in the case. The defense questioned the credibility of two witnesses, convicted felons with memory problems, who testified that Foxx made incriminating statements before and after the shooting.
Jury foreman Carl Raetzsch said they pondered over every detail of the case during the eight-hour deliberations.
“Just the fact that there was a lot of circumstantial evidence made it difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Commonwealth Attorney Tony Spencer agreed that it was difficult to prove murder nearly 14 years after the death.
“The longer a case is delayed, the harder it is to prove,” Spencer said after court. “Witness memories have faded. One witness had died. Two of the witnesses’ memories had been affected by either stroke or disease of the brain.”
The victim’s sister, Sherlene Anderson, and her daughter Rochelle, 38, said they had hoped to get closure after all these years.
“Today was supposed to be a day of closure, but it just opened more questions,” Rochelle said behind tears. “He did everything for her. She degraded him [in court] and he wasn’t here to defend himself. Now, she’s walking around living her life and he’s dead.”
Melissa Foxx declined to comment after trial.
Defense Attorney Mark Murphy said his client was involved in nothing more than an unfortunate accident.
“The tragedy that night has been with her everyday for the last 14 years,” Murphy said. “She hopes everyone can move on.”