Ruth Ann McDaniel in the hospital after the beating (L) and then in the courthouse in 2018 (R). (Source: WMC Action News 5)
MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) -
A Bartlett woman took the stand against her ex-husband who she said brutally beat her 2.5 years ago.
That is something that domestic violence experts say almost never happens. They said it takes an incredible amount of courage to testify against a former partner, but they hope more victims can find that courage and help reverse the trend of increasing domestic violence incidents.
Ruth said her husband at the time, James McDaniel, is responsible for the beating. She said he repeatedly punched her while their grandson slept inside the house.
"He got real angry toward the evening and he ended up beating me," Ruth said.
Tuesday, she walked into a courtroom and told a jury what happened.
"My whole face, both of my eyes were so swollen, and I was bleeding from my nose, my eyes, my ear, and my mouth," Ruth said.
She said James got mad at her when he couldn't find the battery to his scooter. She said he'd had a few drinks and told her repeatedly he was going to kill her.
Ruth said James grabbed a fire log and used it to beat her repeatedly.
After the beating, James refused to take Ruth to the hospital. Prosecutors said he even took a picture of what he'd done to Ruth and sent it to his son.
James is charged with attempted first-degree murder, but his defense team said he did not plan to try to kill his wife.
James' defense team did not deny the beating. Instead the attorneys said James was heavily medicated at the time. They also argued that James had multiple guns in the house at the time of the beating, but he never went to get one to use against Ruth.
"The alcohol intoxication was coupled with intoxication of other drugs that Mr. McDaniel simply wasn't able to form that premeditated intent," defense attorney Blake Ballin said.
Domestic violence numbers in Memphis and Shelby County have risen since Ruth was attacked.
In 2016, investigators looked into 18,000 domestic violence cases. In 2017, that number rose to 20,400.
Domestic violence experts said those numbers don't even cover all the actually instances of domestic violence, because many victims never come forward.
"We are asking victims to come forward and report what's going on," Olliette Murry-Drobot said.
Murry-Drobot works at the Family Safety Center, a group dedicated to helping victims find a way out of abusive relationships.
"We're going to hold their hands. We're going to be a shoulder to cry on, and we're going to help walk them through the process. There is another way," Murry-Drobot said.