Albany's woman's murder trial under way

ALBANY, Ga. -- Despite a quiet courtroom, the videotape of an accused murderer's questioning for nearly two hours on the day of her arrest was difficult to understand.

A jury of six men and six women, along with a man and woman who are serving as jury alternates, viewed and heard the video Tuesday during the murder trial of Marlina Von Hamilton, 33 at the time of her arrest in October. She is on trial for fatally shooting her ex-husband, Christopher Donaldson, 32, in the penis and chest.

The defense hinges on a claim of justifiable homicide based on battered woman's syndrome, defense attorney Johnnie Graham said.

On the video, Von Hamilton said she was beaten on many occasions, raped and otherwise abused by Donaldson.

During his presentation, however, District Attorney Greg Edwards said Von Hamilton had not reported any such abuse to authorities.

The defense countered that Von Hamilton did not report the abuse because she was afraid police would do nothing. "A restraining order would only make things worse" for her, Graham said.

On the night of the slaying, according to Hamilton's statements on the tape, she had a gun under the sofa on which Donaldson sat. She was either sitting or kneeling in front of him and the sofa.

When Donaldson rose to threaten her, she reached under the sofa, grabbed the gun and shot him in self defense, she said on the video.

Her account of the event was disputed by the prosecution.

"That is not what the forensic evidence will show," Edwards said. "We will present that evidence."

The trial resumes at 9 a.m. today in the Albany-Dougherty Judicial Building. Chief Superior Court Judge Willie Lockette is presiding over the case.