Mealy v. Commonwealth

In Mealy v. Commonwealth, 135 Va. 585, 115 S.E. 528 (1923), the defendant testified that she had left her husband several times previously due to his ongoing abuse but that she voluntarily reconciled with him "because he . . . 'would come and out-talk her'" and "promise to 'do better.'" Id. at 588, 115 S.E. at 528. Further, Mealy previously had threatened to kill her husband, and on the evening in question, the altercation began when Mealy took from the post office and opened a letter addressed only to her husband. See Mealy, 135 Va. at 588-89, 115 S.E. at 529. Thus, Mealy was not entirely without fault in beginning the altercation and was entitled, at most, to an acquittal based on excusable rather than justifiable homicide if she established that she retreated and announced a desire for peace. Although Mealy's husband had threatened to kill her shortly before his death, Mealy escaped from him, and he began eating his supper before she returned with a gun and shot him in the back. See id. at 589, 115 S.E. at 529. Therefore, no evidence supported a finding that Mealy perceived an imminent threat from which she was unable to retreat. See id. at 590, 115 S.E. at 529. She testified merely that "'she shot him'" because "'she was tired of him beating her.'" Id. at 589, 115 S.E. at 529. She previously had left the home and returned not because he threatened her but because he promised to "do better."