Woman sentenced to 30 years for shooting death of boyfriend

by: Greg Suskin Updated:

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YORK COUNTY, S.C. —

Christina Adams, 29, stood quietly before a judge Wednesday, as she was sentenced to 30 years in prison for the shooting death of her boyfriend, 44-year-old Michael Howe. She's been in jail for 752 days, since she was 26, and was arrested for Howe's murder.

On the night of Oct. 10, 2011, Adams called a friend, Daniel Martin, telling him she'd just shot Howe.

Martin had been with the couple for dinner hours earlier, and thought everything was fine.

He raced back to the house the couple shared on Smith Street in York, and realized no one had been shot. Howe was in the bathroom, and said he was fine.

But just then, Martin said Adams was suddenly next to him with a gun, shooting Howe. Martin spoke to Channel 9 hours afterward.

"I went into the house to check on Michael, and she followed behind me with the gun, and started shooting him," he said that next day in 2011.

York police said Adams fired 10 shots with a .45 caliber pistol, and five of the bullets struck Howe. Adams threw the gun outside in the yard, and confessed to police that she had shot him.

During the plea on Wednesday, the defense lawyer said Adams had suffered a life time of sexual and physical abuse, starting when she was just 2 years old.

Adams became pregnant at 16, and dropped out of school to work, in the hopes of giving her daughter a better life than she'd had.

Her lawyer said when her relationship with Howe began to crumble, she'd tried to kill herself twice in 2010, a year before killing him.

Special assistant prosecutor Greg Voigt said her whole life is a sad story, leading up the murder of Howe.

"Years of dysfunction came out in one horrible decision," Voigt said.

Family members and friends traveled from as far as Washington state to see Adams appear in court.

Patrick Young, Howe's brother-in-law, spoke for the family after the plea. He said he wasn't surprised that Adams never apologized.

"An apology of course would have been a very nice thing to have heard, but we were prepared for what we saw today," he said.

Howe was well known as a lawyer in York County, and his mother Micky worked for the court system for years. So many people knew them that the judge, and prosecutor recused themselves from the case, so others were brought in from outside the area.

When asked about the 30-year negotiated plea, Young said it's as Howe would've wanted it.

"Michael, being the person that he was, would have forgiven her," he said.

On the night of the murder, Adams said she'd shot Howe because he'd hit her. She had bruises on her, and police had been called to the home in the past for domestic abuse. Her defense originally wanted to show she was a battered woman.

However, Adams agreed to drop those claims, in exchange for a plea to voluntary manslaughter instead of a murder trial.

Voigt said if it had gone to trial he was ready to refute any claims the crime was motivated by fear of Howe.

Though, during an earlier court appearance defense lawyers pointed out that York police had found more than fifty guns in Howe's home. Two of them were strapped to the headboard of his bed.

Adams received the maximum sentence for voluntary manslaughter. Voigt said the sentence left room for hope.

"This gives her a small light at the end of a very long tunnel. There's some hope she can still have a life," he said.A