StoryCorps
10:50 am
Fri August 8, 2014

Finding A New Life, After An Abusive Marriage And A Prison Sentence

Originally published on Fri August 8, 2014 9:15 am

In the late 1980s, Mytokia Fair was working as a Baltimore police officer. But at home, her then-husband, Tyree Friend, beat her.

One night, she recalls, something had upset him. "And it got to a point where he was hitting me, I mean repeatedly, and he spat in my face," Fair tells her current husband, Thomas Fair, on a visit to StoryCorps.

Fair says she knew she couldn't get out of the relationship. "I knew he would follow me," she tells Thomas.

The next day, "I looked at him and, you know, I just saw that look," she tells Thomas. "I knew it was going to start all over again. I couldn't take it anymore; I just wanted the pain to stop. And I shot and killed him.

"When the police officers got there, I was frantic trying to tell them — explain to them what had happened," Fair says. "That's when I realized I was going to jail ... when they put handcuffs on me and read me my rights."

At the time, Maryland did not allow battered spouse syndrome as part of a criminal defense. Fair was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Three years later, Gov. William Donald Schaefer commuted her sentence after the state's parole board recommended Fair's release, saying her actions were the result of her husband's "repeated physical and psychological abuse."

"I understood what I did — I broke the law. So in breaking the law there's consequences. So when I came out, I had to come out running. Had to rebuild my mind like a muscle ... to know how worthy that I am. That's why I was able to allow you to come into my life," Fair, now 54, tells Thomas.

"I knew that you'd been hurt," Thomas tells his wife. "I wanted to be a man that you could trust."

"I wasn't worried. I saw that you wouldn't hurt me," Fair says. "My life is far different now. And I'm so excited of what's to come."

Produced for Morning Edition by Liyna Anwar.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's Friday, which is when we hear from StoryCorps. In 1987, Mytokia Fair, a Baltimore police officer, shot and killed her abusive husband. At the time, Maryland did not allow the use of battered spouse syndrome as part of a criminal defense, and Mytokia was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Three years later, the governor commuted the sentence. Mytokia sat down with her current husband, Thomas Fair, to talk about the events that led to her arrest.

MYTOKIA FAIR: The night before, something had upset him. And it got to a point where he was hitting me. I mean, repeatedly, and he spat in my face. And then the next day, I looked at him and, you know, I just saw that look. I knew that it was going to start all over again. I couldn't take it anymore. I just wanted the pain to stop. And I shot and killed him. When the police officers got there, I was frantic - trying to tell them, explain to them what had happened. That's when I realized I was going to jail was when they put handcuffs on me and read me my rights.

THOMAS FAIR: Was there any time in that relationship that you could get out of it?

M. FAIR: Oh, no. I knew he would follow me. Oh, I knew that. And I thought I could change someone - couldn't change anyone but myself.

T. FAIR: When you got out of prison, was there any fears of how are you going to start your life over?

M. FAIR: Oh, my God. Yeah, there was plenty of fears. I was devastated that I am not a police officer anymore, and I lost that. But I understood what I did. I broke the law. So in breaking the law, there's consequences. So when I came out, I had to come out running - had to rebuild my mind like a muscle, like your weights, like your exercise to know how worthy that I am. That's why I was able to allow you to come into my life.

T. FAIR: You know, I knew you'd been hurt. I wanted to be a man that you could trust.

M. FAIR: I wasn't worried. I saw that you wouldn't hurt me, and you told me that you loved me. And I believed you.

T. FAIR: I see you as a very powerful, beautiful woman, and I wish the men before me could've seen this.

M. FAIR: My life is far different now, and I'm so excited of what's to come.

INSKEEP: That was former Baltimore police officer, Mytokia Fair, and her husband, Thomas Fair. Like all StoryCorps conversations, this one will be archived at the Library of Congress. And you can hear more on the StoryCorps podcast which you can find on iTunes and at npr.org. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.