WASHINGTON (WCMH) – President Joe Biden on Friday pardoned an 80-year-old Columbus woman convicted of killing her abusive husband in 1977.
The White House said Biden granted clemency to Beverly Ann Ibn-Tamas nearly 50 years after a Washington, D.C. jury convicted her of second-degree murder for fatally shooting her husband, Dr. Yusef Ibn-Tamas, according to court records. Ibn-Tamas, who was 33 years old and pregnant at the time of the shooting, testified her husband repeatedly abused her.
Ibn-Tamas, who until recently worked as a nursing director for an Ohio-based healthcare company, was instrumental in moving the judicial system to recognize battered woman syndrome, the White House said.
Marriage marred by abuse
Ibn-Tamas met her husband, Dr. Yusef Ibn-Tamas, while the two worked at Jacobi Hospital in New York City, according to court records. The two eventually married, and in 1974, the Ibn-Tamases and their newly-born daughter moved to Washington, D.C. to open a private practice based out of their home.
During her trial, Ibn-Tamas testified that her husband repeatedly beat and verbally abused her – often at gunpoint – throughout their marriage.
In one incident, Dr. Yusef Ibn-Tamas allegedly “dragged her and their six-month-old baby off a bed and onto the floor,” court records indicate. He allegedly knocked Ibn-Tamas unconscious by kneeling on her neck as she lay on a cement porch, and weeks later, he was accused of forcing Ibn-Tamas out of a car along the highway before driving off with their infant daughter.
Ibn-Tamas said the abuse continued well into her second pregnancy in 1976. At one point, she claimed Dr. Yusef Ibn-Tamas punched her repeatedly and threatened to fracture her skull “should she attempt to leave or seek a divorce.”
Three other people, including Dr. Yusef Ibn-Tamas’ first wife, took the stand to accuse the doctor of violent behavior, court records indicate.
The morning of the shooting
On Feb. 23, 1976, Ibn-Tamas testified that an argument erupted at the breakfast table. She accused her husband of kicking her pregnant stomach, hitting her and then dragging her upstairs, court records indicate. Dr. Yusef Ibn-Tamas then reportedly pointed a .38 caliber revolver at his wife’s face, telling her, “You are going out of here this morning one way or the other.”
Ibn-Tamas claimed her husband later pushed her toward a dresser, on top of which he left his gun “that he had threatened her with moments earlier.” She picked up the gun in self-defense, she testified, and fired it toward the bottom of a door to scare him away.
Dr. Yusef Ibn-Tamas reportedly reappeared, and Ibn-Tamas fired two shots at him, one of which struck his abdomen. As the doctor continued back down the stairs, he reportedly threatened to kill Ibn-Tamas. Fearing for her safety, Ibn-Tamas shot him a third time, this time fatally in the head.
Battered woman syndrome evidence excluded from court
Ibn-Tamas appealed her second-degree murder conviction – for which she was sentenced to one to five years in prison, with credit for time served – on the basis that the trial court refused to allow a clinical psychologist to testify about battered woman syndrome, a “psychological condition and pattern of behavior that develops in victims of domestic violence.”
The D.C. Court of Appeals agreed with Ibn-Tamas, signifying her appeal as “one of the first significant steps toward judicial recognition of battered woman syndrome, and her case has been the subject of numerous academic studies,” the White House said.
Ibn-Tamas’ presidential pardon effectively wipes clean her criminal record. A single mother of two, the White House said she continues to work as a case manager at an Ohio-based healthcare company. Her children have advanced degrees, and her daughter is an attorney.
Along with Ibn-Tamas, Biden awarded a presidential pardon to four men with prior drug convictions.