Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Valentine's Day Murder

On this day, Valentine's Day, in 2001, abortionist John Baxter Hamilton bludgeoned his wife, Susan, to death in their Oklahoma home. He was sentenced to life without parole. Mrs. Hamilton, 55, had worked as a physician's assistant at her husband's abortion facility, Oklahoma Women's Clinic.

The day of the murder, one of Hamilton's patients had been at a hospital, sedated and ready for surgery, when Hamilton called and said he'd be arriving ten minutes early for surgery. But Hamilton was late, not arriving until 9:30. The patient had been left in a sedated state while staff awaited the doctor. Hamilton was more talkative than usual during surgery, explaining to a student nurse about anatomy and disease. He whistled at a nurse rather than calling her by name when he wanted the light moved.

Hamilton initially gave no reason for being late, but later told another doctor that he'd been late because he’d been shopping for a Valentine present for his wife. Records from a flower shop showed that Hamilton had paid for $158 worth of flowers on February 12, but did not come on Valentine's day to pick them up. A Valentine card, chocolates, and stuffed bear for Mrs. Hamilton were in the house; a Valentine card for Hamilton was found in the couple's Jaguar.

Evidently Hamilton went home after he'd finished the surgery. At 11 a.m., 911 got a non-specific trouble call from the home. When police arrived, they found the couple's cars, a white Corvette and a beige Jaguar, parked in front of the house. Inside, they found Hamilton, barefoot in the kitchen wearing a bloody sports coat, dress slacks, and dress shirt, but no tie. Hamilton's wife was found lying on the bathroom floor, bloody and nude, with a man's tie around her neck. Police believe Susan Hamilton had been dead for hours when her husband called 911.

Hamilton was kept in a patrol car outside his house until he was taken to the police station at 1 PM. He was interviewed for about five hours. Cops said the videotape showed that Hamilton would weep and act worried while police officers were in the room, then pace and stop crying when left alone.

Mrs. Hamilton had been strangled with a necktie, hit with a blunt object, and had her face slammed repeatedly onto the marble floor of the master bathroom of the couple's house. The attack had taken about two minutes. Jurors wept looking at autopsy photos of the hole in Mrs. Hamilton's skull. She evidently took three blows to the head. An expert believed that Mrs. Hamilton had attempted to remove the necktie from around her neck, but was “taken down almost immediately and spun onto her face.” Marks showed that she had injured her own neck with her fingernails attempting to rip off the necktie.

A defense expert admitted on cross examination that "the most probable" explanation for the blood spatter on Hamilton's shirt sleeve was that he'd beaten his wife over head with a blunt object. Blood on his shoe indicated that he had trod in a pool of blood. Hamilton held that he was covered with blood because he'd moved his wife to perform CPR and remove the tie from around her neck. He said his shoes had fallen off as he'd jumped over her body to assist her, and that he'd tried to put them back on and kicked them aside and ultimately moved them to another location.

Prosecutors said that Hamilton had fingernail scratches on his shoulders at the time of his arrest. No bloody footprints lead outside although bloody footprints were abundant in the house. Mrs. Hamilton's flesh and blood were found inside Hamilton's car; police believe they fell off his clothes and the blunt instruments as he took them to dispose of them.

Hamilton claimed that he'd gotten in the car, bloody from aiding his wife, when he realized that his car would block the ambulance, but that he was shaking too much to get the key in the ignition, but no footprints lead to the car, as would have been expected if his story was true. Hamilton also couldn't explain how, if he was bloody from trying to aid his wife, there was no blood on the door handle of the car, on the key, or on the outside of the car.

An investigator thought that the killer took a long shower, then pulled drain cleaner down to get rid of any blood in the drain.

The family's housekeeper said that a marble statue was missing from bathroom; it might have been the murder weapon. The housekeeper also said that on two occasions she'd seen bruises on Mrs. Hamilton.

Another woman, Mrs. Hamilton's friend, said that she and Mrs. Hamilton had shared their stories of being abused by their spouses over a five year period, and had joined other abused women in support group. Mrs. Hamilton had suspected that her husband was having an affair with a topless dancer, Alliena Aguirre. Mrs. Hamilton had found the dancer's number 60 times on Hamilton's cell phone bill. Aguirre, aka Nina, said she first went to Hamilton for an abortion in the early 1990s, but also saw him at his gynecology office. She denied that the two had an affair or any type of personal relationship. Aguirre testified that she had done table dances at two Oklahoma City clubs for Hamiliton. She said he paid her $100 and $80 for dances that ordinarily cost $20 each. She said that he called her 10 or more times a day. She said that on February 8, after Mrs. Hamilton learned of the phone calls, Hamilton wrote Aguirre a letter saying he could no longer be her doctor. During his trial, Hamilton claimed that Aguirre was a manic-depressive, suicidal patient and that he'd only been trying to help her.

The couple had discussed divorce two days before the murder. The couple had fought two months before the murder over Hamilton giving his son money behind Susan's back.

Read secular coverage here.

UPDATE: The link above expired, and some guy called Peter came complaining that I must have made the case up since he couldn't find it. Well, I Googled and found the following:

  • Murder trial for city doctor to begin Dec. 3

    Plus these articles archived from The Oklahoman:

  • Doctor arrested in wife's death
  • Few details released on arrest of doctor
  • Doctor to attend wife's service
  • Slaying shocks neighborhood
  • Suspect loses bail appeal - Doctor charged in wife's death to remain in jail pending trial
  • Prosecutors say doctor abused wife
  • Daughter testifies slain woman was scared, upset
  • Colleagues say doctor was late for surgery on day wife was slain
  • Valentine's Day cards illustrate conflicts
  • Attack held intense violence
  • Autopsy photos in Hamilton trial make jurors cry
  • Doctor on trial tells of day wife was slain

    Here is Hamilton's appeal.

    There's this.

    The Discovery Channel did an episode about the murder.

    Does that help, Peter?

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    Anonymous said...

    This story is completely made up. If you don't believe me, check out any major news reporting service: Reuters, AP, BBC, etc. Try doing a search on Google news for _any_ reference to this crime.

    I don't believe that *you* personally made up the story, because it seems to be carried by a number of anti-choice blogs. But you clearly copied it from somewhere.

    Why would you copy a blog purporting to be a newsitem without checking the veracity of the item?

    Christina Dunigan said...

    Murder trial for city doctor to begin Dec. 3 (One of many articles about the murder and trial available at the Oklahoman archives.)

    Evidently you didn't Google hard enough, because I came up with plenty of links.

    Anonymous said...

    I work for Oklahoma Dept of Corrections and can tell you with much certainty that Dr. John Baxter Hamilton is, in fact, serving Life Without Parole for Murder 1st Degree in which his wife was the victim. His DOC # is 413355. Here's the link -

    Christina Dunigan said...

    Thanx, Uncle Ben. I'll turn that url into a link.

    Unknown said...

    Being pro-choice has nothing to do with the poor-choices of others. That's like saying preachers pracitce what they preach, and we all know that ain't true.

    Elinor Dashwood said...

    I just looked this up while seeing the Dateline program on ID. All this killer's friends were squawking about how he couldn't possibly be guilty of taking a life. What nonsense - he took lives for a living! And, Michelle, "being pro-choice" means deciding that your own convenience counts for more than another person's life, and getting away with it because you're a large person who can defend yourself and the one who is killed is a small person who can't defend herself.

    Unknown said...

    Very well said. I've never heard it explained like this.

    Unknown said...

    The man made a very good living by taking the lives of unborn children. I can honestly say that I am not surprised that he'd move on to taking the life of someone who has already been born.