Murder trials for 2 women moved to June

Knesha Carruthers

GOSHEN — An Elkhart woman accused of fatally stabbing her husband plans to argue at trial that she suffered from a form of post-traumatic stress disorder related to domestic abuse.

Lawyers for 33-year-old Knesha Carruthers filed with the court a notice of self-defense and battered woman syndrome. Carruthers is charged with murder for allegedly stabbing 33-year-old Jimmie Gillam before locking him out of the house.

Police found Gillam at the bottom of the front steps of his West Jefferson Street house on July 27, with a single, 6-inch long stab wound to the chest. Carruthers was charged with murder after witnesses told police they saw her get a knife from the kitchen following an argument with Gillam and then stab him.

The notice with Elkhart County Circuit Court says Carruthers, at the time of the alleged crime, was suffering from the effects of battery as part of a past course of conduct by Gillam.

“The defendant was not responsible as a result of mental disease or defect,” states the filing by attorney Mark Altenhof, “rendering the defendant unable to appreciate the wrongfulness of the conduct at the time of the crime, and the defendant used justifiable reasonable force.”

Carruthers and her lawyers were in court Thursday to answer a judge’s questions about the notice. Circuit Court Judge Michael Christofeno asked whether it meant they planned to argue an insanity defense.

He noted that would require a different course of action by the court.

In such cases, a judge may order that at least two mental evaluations be held to determine whether a defendant is competent to stand trial.

Peter Todd, another of her attorneys, told Christofeno they don’t plan to mount an insanity defense. The judge said they can discuss it further during an Oct. 10 pre-trial hearing. 

Carruthers is scheduled for trial on Nov. 4.

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