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Former Boyfriend Goes on Trial Over Killing of USC Professor


We often imagine murders to be crimes involving predators or serial killers who commit random killings, but the majority of homicides are committed by people who know their victims.

Official crime figures show about a quarter of all homicide victims are slain by family members.

In Columbia the trial of Hank Hawes who is accused of the murder of USC professor Jennifer Wilson, has been making headlines. Hawes claimed he stabbed Wilson in self-defense during an argument after she flew into a rage and grabbed a knife, The State reported.

Hawes, 40, said he had gone to the USC professor's home in Monroe Street to break things off with her in the early morning hours of Aug. 28, 2011.

He claimed when he told her it was over she asked him if he had seen an old girlfriend and if they had slept together. He claimed she became angry when he admitted to sleeping with a former girlfriend and she bit his finger. He said he tried to leave the kitchen but Wilson had locked the door behind him, he said.

Hawes claimed Wilson had a knife in her hand and Hawes said he "grabbed the closest thing that I could," a knife from a butcher block. He said during the subsequent fight she was stabbed to death. An autopsy report showed that Wilson was stabbed more than 20 times.

The defense of self-defense is often used in murder trials. The prosecution said Hawes demonstrated memory loss. Hawes blamed blood loss. On cross-examination, prosecutor Luck Campbell responded. "At what point were you able to do Google searches for criminal defense attorneys in this weakened state?"

Earlier during the trial, the media reported on how prosecutors examined months of texts from the suspect's phone, revealing the bumpy relationship between Hawes and his girlfriend.

"They also showed Hawes was talking to other women, including texts where he asked at least two other women to meet up," reported. In June, about a month before the alleged murder, prosecutors said Hawes texted Wilson about having a baby.

Also during the case, a judge ruled the Richland County jury would not hear from two former lovers who claimed Hawes threatened them in 2010, months before he stabbed USC professor Jennifer Wilson to death.

Judge J.C. Nicholson Jr. heard testimony, before the jury arrived, on October 14 and ruled it "too remote" from Wilson's death.

The decision was a blow to the prosecution's case against Hawes. Lawyers sought to show the five-woman, seven-man jury that Hawes, 40, had a history of threatening women with weapons.

Murder and manslaughter are the most serious of violent crimes and carry the most severe sentences. It's important to hire an experienced Columbia violent crimes defense attorney, if you are charged with either of these offenses. Call Masella Law at 803.748.9990.

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