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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Parricide - Domestic abuse
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: July 22, 2011
Date of arrest: Same day (turned herself in to police)
Date of birth: 1964
Victim profile: Her husband, Clarence Henry Washington
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Waynesboro, Augusta County, Virginia, USA
Status: Sentenced to 23 years in prison on January 2, 2012

Washington Sentenced for Murder of Husband

January 2, 2013

Years of domestic abuse between a Waynesboro couple ended with a series of fatal gunshots.  Wednesday, a judge sentenced Debra Kay Washington, 49, for murder - a crime she says she committed out of fear for her own life.

An Augusta County judge ordered Washington to serve 23 years in prison. That's near the top of the state's sentencing guidelines, even though the judge called victim Clarence Washington "a very bad man."

Debra Kay Washington, 49,  had pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and firearms charges. In July 2011, she shot Clarence during a dispute along a remote forest-service road near Sherando.    

Both had prior convictions for spousal abuse, and Clarence had two charges pending at the time of his death. "These are two people that never should have been together. They fought all the time. The surprising thing is that they hadn't killed each other before this. There was fault on both sides. I think the 23-year sentence is appropriate for her," said Commonwealth's Attorney Lee Ervin.

A defense psychologist testified that Debra had suffered from an anxiety disorder, bouts of depression and other mental problems, but he agreed that she fully knew the consequences of her actions. 

Prosecutors say Debra shot her husband six times, the final three in the back of the head. She told the court, "I was scared he was going to get up and kill me".


Waynesboro woman who killed husband sentenced to 23-year prison term

January 2, 2013

Showing little remorse on the stand, on Wednesday a Waynesboro woman was sentenced to 23 years in prison for the 2011 slaying of her husband.

“I couldn’t take it anymore,” said 49-year-old Debra K. Washington, as she explained why she shot Clarence “Henry” Washington six times the afternoon of July 22, 2011. “He had run around on me too many times.”

Clarence Washington was shot three times in the side and his aorta was severed. His wife then shot him three more times in the back of the head.

“I was scared he was going to get up and kill me,” Debra Washington testified Wednesday in Augusta County Circuit Court.

The couple, according to evidence, had a tumultuous relationship. At the time of his death, Clarence Washington had two pending charges of domestic violence against his estranged wife.

Authorities discovered Clarence Washington’s body off Coal Road behind a campsite near Sherando. The body was partially covered with sticks and leaves.

In August, Debra Washington pleaded guilty to charges of second-degree murder, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. She was convicted of breaking and entering in the early 1980s.

At Wednesday’s hearing in Augusta County Circuit Court, evidence showed Debra Washington was raped as a child. Afterward, she was in a string of abusive relationships. Her attorney, Thomas Weidner IV, said she also suffers from post traumatic stress disorder, depression, a personality disorder and is bi-polar.

Dr. Davis Rawls, a Western State Hospital psychiatrist, said Washington also suffered from self-mutilation after the rape.

Washington apologized for the slaying of her husband. “If I could go back and undo what happened, I would,” she said.

Washington said on the day of the killing, despite being recently beaten by her husband, she agreed to meet him at a local church. They drove toward Sherando, where they exited the vehicle and discussed his recent relationship with another woman. Washington said she told her husband that she still planned to testify against him on the domestic abuse charges.


Augusta County Woman Pleads Guilty to Murdering Husband

August 21, 2012

An Augusta County woman pleaded guilty Tuesday to murdering her husband and then dumping his body in the woods.

Debra Washington was arrested shortly after sheriff's deputies found her husband near a camp site off Coal Road last July.  She led them on a short car chase and then took off on foot into Grand View subdivision.  She then turned herself into Waynesboro police.

Washington also pleaded guilty to two firearms charges.  She will be sentenced December 17.


Charges Certified Against Woman Accused of Killing her Husband

January 6, 2012

The long-awaited preliminary hearing for Debra Washington wrapped up this morning in Augusta County.

Washington is accused of shooting her husband to death and hiding his body in July of last year. The defense has already hinted at a self-defense strategy in this case.

The 47-year-old defendant faces five charges, including first-degree murder, two firearms counts, and concealing a body. After a roughly half-hour hearing Friday morning an Augusta county judge certified all five charges to a grand jury.

Debra Kay Washington turned herself in to police last July just hours after the shooting death of her husband, Clarence Henry Washington. A deputy testified that he found the body covered in leaves, dirt and debris near a campsite off the coal road in a remote part of Augusta County.

One witness testified that a distraught Debra Washington was scratched and bruised as she admitted killing her husband in a struggle.  Court records show a long history of domestic violence between the couple.

But prosecutors have also said the defendant bought ammo for the alleged murder weapon just one week before the shooting.

A grand jury hears the case later this month.


Augusta Woman Accused of Murder Appears in Court

July 25, 2012

A Waynesboro woman accused of gunning down her husband and trying to hide his body made a tearful first court appearance Monday. Court records may offer a glimpse at a possible defense strategy.

A judge Monday afternoon told Debra Kay Washington "good luck".  She faces five felony charges, including first degree murder, for the death of her husband Clarence Washington.

Defense Attorney Thomas Weidner will handle her case, which begins with a preliminary hearing in October.

Washington, 47, spoke to the judge during Monday's brief advisement hearing and asked tearful questions about family members, and unattended pets at her Waynesboro home.

Debra Washington reportedly ditched her car and ran from Augusta County deputies on Friday, shortly after telling a relative that she'd killed her husband. She later turned herself in to police.

Investigators found the body of 47-year-old Clarence Washington that same evening, in a wooded area along Coal Road near Sherando. An autopsy showed he died of multiple gunshot wounds.

Husband and wife both have felony convictions in their backgrounds. Clarence's record included prison time for a felony assault in 2002, against the woman who's now accused of killing him.

Debra Washington is being held in the Middle River Regional Jail, but will likely have a bond hearing next week.


Augusta County Authorities Confirm Death of Clarence Henry Washington

July 23, 2011

Investigators say the story Debra Washington told her relatives on Friday was true. They have identified a body discovered late Friday as Clarence Henry Washington, her husband and on Saturday night, she is behind bars accused of the crime.

There are still a lot of questions surrounding the shooting death of an Augusta County man Friday, but deputies say they know one thing, that the man's wife - Debra Washington is the killer.

The body found by Augusta County Sheriff's deputies Friday night, is Clarence Henry Washington, the husband of 47-year-old Debra Washington. She is charged with first degree murder, gun charges, eluding police, and illegally disposing of a concealed body.

Deputies found Mr. Washington's body Friday around 6 p.m. near a camp site off Coal Road. A call from a relative first tipped them off earlier in the day.

Lieutenant A.C. Powers said, "He gave us the name of the person that was at his house that had said she had shot Henry."

Deputies found Debra Washington in her Toyota Tercel only 15 minutes later and chased her into the Grand View subdivision. They say she got out of the car and ran on foot before turning herself in to Waynesboro Police later Friday evening. Investigators say Washington never confessed to them, but they believe all the clues point to her as her husband's killer.

"Based on the information we had all day, where the call came in from originally, her vehicle was very dusty and dirty, so several investigators, myself and the road guys decided we better start checking this area here on the coal road," Powers explained.

Deputies are busy searching her car and home for evidence and talking to witnesses and family members.

"We've already talked to some. We'll be talking to more. It's far from being over as far as the investigation," Powers added.

Clarence Washington's body is now on it's way to Roanoke for an autopsy. Debra Washington is being held in the Middle River Regional Jail Saturday night and is expected to be in court Monday for a bond hearing.


Waynesboro Woman Claiming She Killed Her Husband Turns Herself In

July 22, 2011

The Augusta County Sheriff's Office has charged Debra Washington with five charges including first degree murder, a pair of firearms charges, concealing a body, and eluding the police. Washington had previously claimed on Friday, that she had shot and killed her husband, Clarence Washington, setting off a search for Debra Washington and her husband.

On Friday night, Augusta County authorities found the body of a deceased black male in his forties about 400 feet off of a forest service road in George Washington National Forest near Sherando. Authorities have not released the identity of that body.

Debra Washington is currently being held at the Middle River Regional Jail.

Deputies spent much of Friday combing Augusta County, and scratching their heads. They were looking for a woman who reportedly claimed she killed her husband. By Friday afternoon, she finally turned herself in, but the question remains - did a murder take place?

Just before noon on Friday, 911 dispatchers got a call from Stuarts Draft, where Debra Washington told a relative that she'd shot and killed her husband. Washington showed up at the Waynesboro Police Department around 4 p.m., but so far, no sign of a victim.

Augusta County Sheriff's investigators are interviewing 47-year-old Washington right now. So far, the only charge they've filed is eluding police.

Washington was driving a green Toyota Tercel when a deputy spotted her in it shortly after noon, near Grandview Manor just outside of Waynesboro. They say Washington then abandoned the car and ran away.

Investigators searched the Toyota for clues and called in search dogs. They're still looking for the possible victim, Clarence Washington, who was last seen Friday morning at Augusta Health, where he undergoes dialysis treatments.

He may be driving a silver Volvo. Deputies and police have checked possible sightings in Stuarts Draft, Sherando and Waynesboro.


Debra Kay Washington



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