Domestic violence is a horrible crime that happens every day. Women, children, and men are abused by the people who supposedly love them. Suppose you have ever seen the Farrah Fawcett movie “The Burning Bed” based on a true story of Francine Moran Hughes. In that case, you will see that there is some horrific abuse that the victims endure. Or if you have seen Netflix’s “I Am a Killer” on Linda Lee Couch. Abused women who murdered their abusers. Tracey Grissom was severely abused by her husband, Hunter Daniel Grissom when she filed for divorce. Two years later, she murdered him. Is she innocent or guilty?  

The Abuse Begins

30-year-old Tracey Grissom and 28-year-old Hunter Daniel Grissom had a tumultuous relationship. There had been a string of domestic violence calls to the home of the married couple. Hunter had also been charged with Hunter Grissom’s previous charges of first-degree rape, first-degree sodomy, unlawful imprisonment, and other drug-related charges. Allegedly, Tracey had been the victim in the charges of rape and sodomy that occurred in November 2010. Hunter came to take the kids. Not sure how the conversation turned into Tracey letting Hunter know that she had a new boyfriend and spent a few days with him. This was when Tracey told police Hunter tied her up and sexually assaulted her. After sexually assaulting her, Hunter had knocked her out to the point that she did not wake up until the following day.

Hospital papers show that she came in to treat a gash on her head, marks where her feet and arms were tied, and bruises. She also needed surgery for rectal damage. 

How did it get to that point?  

Hunter accepted Tracey’s son from a previous relationship. The two had married in 2004, and it seems that they were happy. The two would have a daughter in 2009 after numerous miscarriages and fertility treatments. 

The two were also business partners and opened up a construction company. It seems that during this time, Hunter was hiding the fact that he was a drug user. When Tracey found out in the summer of 2010, she filed for divorce. This was when the abuse started happening.

 He started beating her, and there are pictures online to show the amount of abuse Tracey took. Eventually, it got to the point that he raped and sodomized her. At this point, Tracey, fearful for her life, got a restraining order and bought a gun.

The Murder 

On May 15, 2012, Tracey Grissom was heading to work; she saw Hunter’s truck at the Binion Creek boat landing. Tracey would later admit that she made a massive mistake in what she did next. She decided to park and take pictures of his truck due to the pending court case to show that Hunter was working. Since 2010, Hunter had stopped paying any type of support. Tracey would say that “I lost – everything. My world just fell apart.”  

Hunter saw her taking pictures and started glaring at her. He eventually started to approach the car, which Tracey said menacingly. Tracey would get out of her car with the gun she had purchased and shoot Hunter. 

She called 911.  

Operator: Your name is Tracey?

Tracey Grissom: Yes.

Operator: OK. And you killed your husband?

Tracey Grissom: Ex-husband. Yes.

Operator: Ex-husband. How did you kill him?

Tracey Grissom: I shot him.

Operator: Do you have the gun?

Tracey Grissom: I got the gun.

Operator: What kind of gun do you have?

Tracey Grissom: I couldn’t take it no more [crying].

Operator: OK, calm down.

Tracey Grissom: I couldn’t take it anymore.

When the police arrived, they found Hunter lying face down next to his truck. He had been shot six times. Twice on his back, once on his elbow, and the other in the upper right arm.    

Tracey said that the reason she did was that she was fearful for her life due to the abuse. I am not sure if there was any abuse after the brutality in November 2010. 

Later, it was found out that Tracey was not the only one who had called the police. There were other witnesses around who called as well. One of them was Will Dockery, who worked for Hunter. He would say, “There was some fear in his eyes. But, you know, he knew there was fixin’ to be some kind of confrontation. And– he looked directly at me and told me to call the police.” 

Will said that when he was pulling his phone out, Hunter yelled, “‘Call the f—-in’ law. And that’s when I went ahead and started dialin’. And by that time, she was gettin’ out and startin’ to shoot.”

He said Hunter and his brother would start running, but Hunter was on the ground in seconds. 

There were discrepancies in some of the details Tracey told police. For example, she said that Hunter flicked her off, but witnesses say that never happened. Instead, Tracey would later say that he was just aggressively moving towards her. 

In an interview, Hunter’s aunt would say that the rape case was coming and that Tracey wanted to get rid of Hunter before that occurred because he would get visitation rights with their daughter. Seeing the pictures and learning about the hospital records, I am not sure Tracey was lying about the rape or abuse. Maybe she was afraid that he would get visitation with their daughter, knowing that he was a drug user and was abusive. However, that is just my theory. 

Trial

In 2014, the trial would begin. Tracey’s attorney took the stance that it was self-defense. At the same time, prosecutors said that she murdered him for life insurance money.

The judge did not allow the jury to hear the details of the rape case. Instead, the judge reasoned that Hunter had died before the rape trial, so he never had time to defend himself. 

The prosecutors showed that the day before Tracey shot Hunter, she called MetLife, Hunter’s life insurance company. A MetLife representative confirmed that she had called to make sure they had her correct address. She would then call two weeks later to let them know that Hunter died. 

Tracey remained optimistic that the jury would see that she shot Hunter in self-defense. However, this is not what occurred. She was found guilty. The head juror would say that they did not think she did it for the life insurance money, but it was a “crime of passion.” 

The judge allowed her to go home until the sentencing.

A juror contacted the newspaper because after seeing Tracey’s photos and learning about the rape, the juror said she would have never convicted her if she had known about the past abuse and rape. 

In an interview, a domestic violence counselor would say that Tracey’s attack was one of the worst she had seen in her 20 years of practice. 

“I was horrified. She had been subjected to a very vicious and very brutal assault. She was constantly on guard, experienced panic attacks, and was jumpy. She had horrible night terrors. I felt she about to be put in a lethal situation and was terrified for her life.”

Tracey Grissom was sentenced to 25 years in prison. When she found out, Tracey screamed, “It’s not fair, it’s not fair!”

Innocent? 

Tracey Grissom asked for a new trial. Her reason? Her trial attorney Warren Freeman made mistakes during the trial. Warren Freeman seems to have admitted that he was to blame for her being in jail because he said he “deeply regrets” some of his choices. 

The two mistakes that he says haunts him are: 1. Listening to Tracey to not have the jury ponder a manslaughter charge is less time in prison. The other is allowing a Deputy Sheriff’s mother to serve as a juror. 

Her new attorney Stuart Albea mentioned during the questioning of Tracey’s old attorney that he did not pursue the fact that Tracey was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder due to being raped by her ex-husband. Instead, he went with a self-defense argument. 

Freeman responded that he had two evaluations done to see if Tracey was suffering from PTSD. The first said that she was faking it, and the second said that it was possibly borderline. He could not find an expert who would stand in court and say that he was suffering from PTSD. 

He said of her refusing to allow the jury to consider manslaughter:

“Her answer was ‘If I’m convicted of manslaughter, I’ll lose my children, I’ll lose my nurse’s license. If I’m convicted of murder, I’ll lose my children and my nursing license. My life is over either way.”

Allowing the deputy sheriff’s mom on the jury? Tracey was the one who requested that the woman be chosen. He felt it was not a good idea but deferred to his client. 

A judge would deny her request for a new trial. 

I couldn’t find much after that, only that Tracey is still in prison. However, she did file a motion against prison medical staff, saying they let her suffer when she was having issues with her kidneys. 

Closing Remarks

There is no doubt that in 2010, Hunter was severely abusing Tracey. I also don’t think the hospital would make up for what Tracey was treated for. Hunter’s family and attorney said that she was making it up. Tracey would have to be a sick individual to cause rectal damage on herself and all those cuts and bruises. It also doesn’t make sense that Hunter was not giving Tracey any type of financial support for their daughter. 

However, does that excuse her for shooting him in the way that she did? Two years later, she got out of her car and shot him while he ran away. What was the fear that she had? That he would start seeing their daughter without her present? I can see that would be a huge fear, but there is no indication that he was abusive towards the kids. I would still be afraid of that.

It seems she was also upset that he wasn’t giving her any type of support. As a single mother myself, I could see why that would cause a level of stress. He should not have stopped giving her support because the issues between them had nothing to do with his responsibility. If he didn’t think the money was going towards their daughter, then he could have gone through the courts. 

As of now, Hunter’s mother is raising their daughter. Tracey’s son had been arrested in 2017 for attempted murder after a drug exchange went wrong. This is sad that history repeats itself. I am not sure what happened to Tracey’s son after she went to prison. He might have gone into the foster care system, which is still needed for improvements in this country. 

I wish that Tracey could have a crystal ball and see that her kids needed her and that money is a stressful thing to deal with, but it’s not the most important. I do think that she was afraid of Hunter, but I think as the jury thought. It was a crime of passion. All the pent of the anger of all the abuse and pain this man caused, and she saw it as he was living his best life while she was struggling. I wish she would have realized that now she has lost 25 years for a man who didn’t deserve it.