A former elementary school teacher on trial for murder testified today that she tried to leave her husband after years of abuse but hacked him to death with a hatchet during one last violent encounter because "I had to stop him."
Nancy Seaman, 52, is charged with first-degree, premeditated murder. Prosecutors say that on May 9, after a fight with her husband, she went to a store, bought a hatchet, then went home and savagely killed Robert Seaman, 57, by hitting him 15 times with the hatchet and stabbing him 21 times with a knife.
Seaman, who taught fourth grade at Longacre Elementary School, allegedly wrapped her husband's body in a tarp and put it in her sport utility vehicle, where police found it May 12 at the couple's home in Farmington Hills, a Detroit suburb.
Seaman maintains she acted in self-defense. She testified today that the morning after Mother's Day, she and her husband got into what she termed "the grand finale of all fights." She said her husband became angry when he found out she had bought a condo and was planning on leaving him..
"He's angry because he said he wasted his life with me," Seaman explained. "He said, 'Why can't you just die? I don't love you anymore.' He kicked me. He kicked me in the leg."
She then demonstrated to the court how she lay in the garage trying to protect herself, with her hands covering her face. She said her husband would not let go of her leg, so she picked up the hatchet and hit him.
"I kept swinging it and I kept swinging it and I kept swinging it ... I was terrified," she told the court. "I was absolutely terrified. All I knew was that I had to stop him."
Seaman said it was then that she used the kitchen knife to stab her husband, but she doesn't remember doing it.
With her husband's lifeless body in the garage, Seaman left for work at Longacre Elementary, but came back during lunch.
"There was blood everywhere," Seaman told the court, breaking down. "I kept saying, 'Bob, why did you do this to me? Why did you do this to me? Why?' For 30 years, 30 years! And I was going to be safe in just a couple weeks. A couple weeks! It was just a couple weeks longer."
Seaman said she went out to buy cleaning supplies and bleach so that she could clean up the scene before her son could see what happened in the garage. She added that prior to her arrest she was planning to turn herself in, but she wanted to do it on her own terms.
On Monday, Seaman told the jury that for the first 21 years of her marriage, her husband abused her sporadically. She recalled one incident after another when she claims her husband got out of hand, but she admitted she didn't confide in anyone about what she said she was suffering.
"I was ashamed. I'd only been married a few months," she said. "My God, that's supposed to be the best part of your marriage, is the early part."
She told the jury her husband was a man with two sides, a man she says she was getting ready to leave for good.
"He had like two personalities. He was very charming. He was like a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," she testified. "He was very charming, and that's the Bob I fell in love with. But there was this other side, and it was always true that he had a short fuse and a bad temper."
Talking about the days following her arrest, she said: "I wish he would have killed me."
Seaman described a pattern of physical abuse.