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Woman convicted of stabbing husband

Published July 28, 2008 at 4:41 p.m.
Updated July 28, 2008 at 4:41 p.m.

Nancy Bautista was still in the hospital following an apparent suicide attempt when she was convicted today of attempted first-degree murder for stabbing her husband in the back.

A Jefferson County jury also convicted Bautista, 54, of first-degree assault in the April 15, 2007, attack on her husband, college administrator Michael Bautista, who was stabbed in the back April 15, 2007, while he worked on his computer preparing a property list for their pending divorce.

The jury began deliberating Friday afternoon while Nancy Bautista, a registered nurse, lay unconscious in the hospital. She was supposed to testify in her own defense Friday, but failed to show up in court, throwing attorneys and police into a frantic attempt to check on her welfare. She had attempted suicide in May 2007 and was considered suicidal in the months before the trial, defense attorney Michael Ferber said.

Nancy Bautista was unconscious, barely breathing and had no pulse when police found her in the bathtub with a burning candle and rosary or crucifix on the toilet seat, said Jefferson County investigator Russ Boatright.

Officials said today that Bautista had regained consciousness and will be transported to the Jefferson County Jail when she is released from the hospital.

Ferber asked the judge for a new trial or to grant a mistrial based on what he said was “scuttlebutt” – reports from Nancy Bautista’s daughter that she had accidentally fallen in the tub, knocking herself unconscious, and did not overdose on prescription medications.

“If that is the case and it turns out that this was an accidental injury,” he said, “she did not intentionally absent herself from court proceedings Friday, and a mistrial is appropriate because she was denied the right to present vital evidence to the court.”

Jefferson County District Judge Lily Oeffler ruled Friday that the trial must proceed to closing arguments without Nancy Bautista’s testimony or presence because, based on preliminary medical reports, she apparently had chosen to overdose on drugs.

Prosecutor Elly Peirson said the information from Lakewood police who interviewed Nancy Bautista in the hospital is “contrary” to Ferber’s account about an accidental fall.

The judge said a hearing could be held later once the facts are ascertained.

Michael Bautista testified during the trial that his wife was drinking, became belligerent and stabbed him as he worked at his computer.

But Ferber called Michael Bautista's version of events "baloney" and said Nancy Bautista stabbed her husband after he slammed her into the wall and threw her on the floor as they argued about his extramarital affairs.

Ferber also planned to present expert testimony that Nancy Bautista was under the influence of drugs and alcohol during the attack on her husband and that her troubles could be traced to childhood abuse, which left her with post-traumatic stress syndrome.

But that plan derailed Thursday when the defense expert, Roger Carlson, took the stand and admitted that his doctorate in psychology came from a diploma mill in Texas.

Prosecutor Charles Tingle told the jury in his closing argument that Nancy Bautista was angry and sought revenge against her husband, telling him after she stabbed him, "I want you to feel the pain that I feel."

Bautista disabled phones in the home and knocked a cell phone out of her husband's hand, refusing his repeated pleas to call for help, Tingle said. Instead, she asked her husband to lie on the floor with her as the blood drained out of his body.

Bautista also was charged with making a false report to police that her estranged husband came to her apartment Aug. 27 and stabbed her in the back. The jury acquitted her of this misdemeanor charge.

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