Doreen McClendon went to court Nov. 28 to ask for a protective order against her boyfriend Kevin M. Tinsley -- a request that was denied by a District Court commissioner.
Less than nine hours after she filed the paperwork, she was fatally stabbed.
A Prince George's County jury yesterday convicted Tinsley, 39, of manslaughter and car theft in connection with her death but acquitted him of first- and second-degree murder and assault charges.
Jurors had asked to see McClendon's application for a protective order during their deliberations. Circuit Court Judge E. Allen Shepherd refused because he had previously ruled that it could not been admitted into evidence.
McClendon, 37, wrote in the application that she had told Tinsley that she wanted him out of the Greenbelt apartment they shared with her four children and toddler grandson.
"At that time, he said I wouldn't be living if he had to go," McClendon wrote.
Many of the two dozen relatives of McClendon's who were in the courtroom wept as the jury's manslaughter verdict was read. Tinsley stood straight and did not react.
Tinsley could have faced life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder. Manslaughter carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, and auto theft carries a maximum sentence of five years. Shepherd scheduled sentencing for Dec. 2.
George Harper, Tinsley's attorney, said that the manslaughter and auto theft convictions would be appealed.
"It was a travesty. This was justice not served at all," said Robyn McClendon, Doreen McClendon's sister-in-law. "The jury came back with this verdict because it didn't have the information it needed."
Two of McClendon's teenage daughters testified for the state that, before she died, their mother told them, "Kevin did it."
McClendon was fatally wounded outside her apartment just after 11 a.m. Nov. 28. She was taken to Prince George's Hospital Center, where she died in surgery.
The night before, Tinsley testified, McClendon handed him a note saying she wanted him to leave the apartment. Sometime after midnight, McClendon's mother and stepfather arrived, and the stepfather asked him to leave; Tinsley testified that he replied that it was too late to go anywhere.
About 11 that morning, Tinsley testified, he went outside to smoke a cigarette. When he returned, he was met at the apartment door by McClendon, who was wielding a knife, Tinsley said.
"I grabbed her, she fell on top of me and she screamed," Tinsley said. Tinsley said he did not stab McClendon.
Tinsley said he ran to McClendon's 1992 Honda Accord and drove away because he was afraid. He was arrested five days later at a shelter in Houston.
In her closing argument, Assistant State's Attorney Ann Stewart-Wagner said Tinsley's account made no sense. The prosecutor said McClendon was stabbed not only in the chest but in her left hand and right thigh. "This was not an accident," Stewart-Wagner said.
Before her death, McClendon and her stepfather went to the Hyattsville courthouse, where Court Commissioner Dennis P. Settles denied her request for a protective order at 2:30 a.m.
About 24 hours later, Settles signed an arrest warrant for Tinsley, accusing him in McClendon's killing.
Settles told The Washington Post yesterday that he made the right decision in denying McClendon's request for a protective order. He said she had previously obtained a protective order against Tinsley and had accused him of assault, only to ask officials to drop the order and the assault charge.
"I did the right thing under the law," he said.
Settles was fired from his job as a court commissioner in November or December for a reason unrelated to the McClendon case, said District Court Judge Thurman H. Rhodes, chief administrative judge of the District Court in Prince George's.
Settles said he was told he was fired for "insubordination" but believes he was terminated because court officials were pressured by women's groups critical of his denial of McClendon's application.
Prosecutors said they were disappointed that Tinsley was not convicted on one of the murder charges. State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey said he believed that Assistant State's Attorneys Wagner-Stewart and William D. Moomau had presented a strong case.
"It's not 'CSI' every time, but I thought there was more than enough evidence in this case," Ivey said.