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Chatham Woman Who Killed Husband Was Acting in Self-Defense, Attorney Says

By  Erica Demarest and Kelly Bauer | April 21, 2016 8:08am | Updated on April 21, 2016 1:55pm

 Jamara L. Cannon, 31, stabbed her husband to death, police said.
Jamara L. Cannon, 31, stabbed her husband to death, police said.
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Courtesy Chicago Police Department

COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — A Chatham woman stabbed her husband to death after an argument Tuesday, prosecutors said.

Jamara Cannon, 31, was cooking and cutting meat early Tuesday when she walked over to her husband, who was watching TV, and stabbed him once in the neck with an 8-inch blade, according to Assistant State's Attorney Matthew Howroyd.

Michael Williams, 37, "immediately began gushing blood from his neck," Howroyd said, and was later pronounced dead at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

During a bond hearing Thursday, Cannon's attorney, Robert Kerr, described Cannon as "a battered woman acting in self-defense." Kerr claimed Williams attacked Cannon multiple times over their decade-long marriage and that Cannon was defending herself Tuesday.

According to court records, Williams was convicted of strangling and elbowing Cannon in 2014. In that incident, good Samaritans who witnessed the attack, which stemmed from an earlier argument, flagged down police, officers said. Williams was sentenced to probation.

He's been charged with domestic battery three other times since 2010, but each case was eventually dropped when the victim failed to appear in court, court records show.

Tuesday's fatal attack started earlier that evening when Williams and Cannon got into a verbal argument in front of a witness, Howroyd said. Cannon waved her arms, and Williams pushed her back when she got too close, prosecutors noted.

Things eventually calmed down, Howroyd said, and Cannon began cooking while Williams watched TV.

That's when Cannon walked toward Williams and stabbed him once with the knife, according to prosecutors.

Cannon called 911, and police found large pools of blood under Williams, prosecutors said. Officers also noticed blood on the walls and floors in the kitchen, front room, hallway, bathroom and bedroom. Cannon had blood on her arms, hands, tank top, pants and sock, Howroyd said.

Cannon allegedly told police she was imitating a stabbing motion she saw on TV when the knife she was holding slipped out of her hand. Cannon didn't even realize her husband had been stabbed until she saw blood gushing from her neck, Howroyd said.

An autopsy revealed that Williams died of a "thrust wound" that severed his carotid artery, prosecutors said. A 2.5-inch horizontal stab wound had sliced through his right jaw line and punctured his neck, the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office said.

Cannon, of the 8000 block of South Ingleside Avenue, is charged with first-degree murder. She was previously convicted of domestic battery and endangering the life of a child, prosecutors said.

Cook County Judge Adam Bourgeois Jr. on Thursday set bail at $750,000.

After court, Kerr said he hasn't seen Cannon's videotaped confession or any crime-scene evidence, but he does "expect the evidence to show my client acted in self-defense."

"She was a victim of domestic violence for many years," Kerr continued. "I'm not a medical expert, but I wouldn't be surprised if she was suffering from post-traumatic stress."

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