HAGERSTOWN, MD., JULY 23 -- A Western Maryland woman was sentenced today to eight years in prison for killing and dismembering her ex-husband who witnesses said beat and "treated her like dirt" for 35 years.
A psychologist and psychiatrist testified in Washington County Circuit Court that Juanita Irene Stinson, 57, suffered from battered-woman syndrome and post-traumatic stress disorder after years of physical, mental and sexual abuse.
Two of her daughters testified that their father, Charles William Stinson, punched and kicked their mother, destroyed her self-esteem and prevented her from leaving their Garrett County home countless times over the years.
"He'd wake us up in the middle of the night slapping her around the room and beating her," said Irene Fickes, 35, of Williamsburg, Pa., the Stinsons' oldest child. "All through the years I begged my mother to leave. She was afraid of what he would do.
"I called the police many times and they came and took him and incarcerated him for days, weeks. Then he would beg her to take him back."
Juanita Stinson, of Mountain Lake Park, pleaded guilty in April to second-degree murder. She admitted fatally shooting Charles Stinson, 58, three times on May 25, 1987, cutting his body into six pieces and burying it in a shallow grave near their home.
The two were divorced in the 1950s, but lived together as husband and wife.
Juanita Stinson lied about her ex-husband's whereabouts for two years, saying he was on a business trip. He installed well cases for gas wells and often was gone for months at a time.
She later admitted the killing to an undercover State Police trooper, who posed as a business associate of Charles Stinson's and befriended her in early 1988.
Washington County Circuit Court Judge Frederick C. Wright III called the abuse a tragedy, but said taking an individual's life was something the court could never condone.
"What I see was a determination to kill, a determination to continue the anger by dismembering the body and a planned scheme or charade" to cover up death, Wright said. "I've heard a lot about him, that he was not a good person, but people who are not good people desire to live."
He strongly recommended that Stinson be incarcerated at Patuxent Institution, a state prison that offers psychological treatment.
Stinson, who told the judge that she was sorry and that she loved her husband, walked out of the courtroom surrounded by more than two dozen relatives and friends. She was ordered to report to the Garrett County Sheriff's Department Tuesday morning.
Ernest Martin, of Oakland, Md., who knew the couple for more than 12 years, said Charles Stinson treated his wife "like a dog."
"He treated her like somebody would treat dirt under their feet. He was mentally cruel to her," Martin said, adding that he once saw Charles Stinson grab Juanita Stinson and bruise her arm. "It looked like someone took a paint brush and painted it blue."
Neil Blumberg, a forensic psychiatrist from Timonium, Md., testified that the abuse gradually eroded Juanita Stinson's self-confidence and logic, leaving her feeling helpless and dependent on him.
He said battered women often strike out and kill their abuser after years of tolerating abuse when a change occurs in their relationship, the abuse becomes more severe or the victim becomes more concerned about her safety.
Blumberg said she might have dismembered Charles Stinson's body as a way of making sure that he could never abuse her again.