Co-defendant in babysitter slaying seeks ‘battered woman’ defense

The girlfriend of a Dayton man accused of killing a woman who was babysitting wants to have her complicity to commit murder case trial severed from her boyfriend’s because her attorneys say she suffered from “battered woman syndrome.”

Attorney Ben Swift wrote that testimony could show that Kara Parisi-King — who recently gave birth to a child — didn’t willingly participate in the alleged crime but that she “acquiesced to Chuckie Lee’s demands in fear for her life,” according to court documents obtained by the Dayton Daily News.

RELATED: Co-defendants in babysitter murder case waive speedy trial rights

Lee, 39, faces murder and several other counts related to the March 12 homicide of Taylor Brandenburg, 20.

Police said Parisi-King helped Lee get a semi-automatic pistol and transport him to 77 Huffman Ave., where Brandenburg, 20, was shot outside a residence where she was babysitting. That address was associated with people who had earlier fought with Lee and his friends at the Glass Hat Bar & Grill, according to police.

After fleeing from law enforcement, Parisi-King was apprehended at the Red Roof Inn in Fairborn.

RELATED: 8 months pregnant, woman in babysitter murder case wants bond reduced

Parisi-King, 27, and Evans Cassell III, 36, face complicity to commit murder and several other charges related to Brandenburg’s death.

Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Judge Gregory Singer ruled that Cassell will have his own trial, scheduled for Oct. 31.

Swift wrote that Dr. Mary Melton is expected to testify that the defendant was in an entangled relationship in which she had suffered substantial psychological harm, “which resulted in her belief that her life would be endangered if she did not accede to … Lee’s commands during the criminal event at issue in this case,” according to a supplemental memorandum regarding the motion to sever the trials.

RELATED: Babysitter ‘true victim’ in Dayton homicide, police say

Montgomery County assistant prosecutor Anthony Schoen wrote in response that such testimony is inadmissible.

“Battered woman’s syndrome is not applicable in the present case,” Schoen wrote. “Defendant is charged as a co-defendant with complicity. The facts of this case present no scenario where self-defense could be claimed by this Defendant.”

Lee’s attorney, Michael Pentecost, also filed a motion to sever the trials, quoting Swift’s motion that Lee and Parisi-King will present “mutually antagonistic, irreconcilable, directly contradictory and exclusive defenses at trial.”

RELATED: As Dayton babysitter’s family mourns, they thank police, community

Singer has not ruled on the motion to sever, according to court records. Lee and Parisi-King both have scheduling conferences scheduled for Oct. 10.

In his motion to sever, Swift said his client was “well acquainted with Chuckie Lee’s propensity for violence.”

Swift wrote that Cassell saw Lee enraged, barking profanity laced orders at Parisi-King, demanding she go to the shed and get his gun.

Swift wrote that there is evidence that everyone around Lee at that time was “terrified,” that he threatened to shoot Evans and that an uncharged woman said Lee ordered Parisi-King to go to the U Haul facility.

Having Parisi-King sit next to Lee at trial “may prejudice the trial in itself, as his very presence is so intimidating to her that it could reasonably be anticipated to inhibit her defense should she decide to testify,” Swift wrote.

Schoen wrote that battered woman syndrome is a part of a self-defense claim, and that in Ohio, “it must be established that the person asserting the defense had a bona fide belief that she was in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that her only means of escape from such danger was in the use of such force.”

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