The violent history between Kennitha LaBoard and Termaine Frasier was no secret, but somehow their relationship still ended with what sounds like her pleas for life and the gunfire that silenced her.
It’s a cycle of domestic violence that South Carolina is all too familiar with. After repeated interactions with law enforcement, Frasier escaped punishment and it cost LaBoard her life.
Frasier, 39, fatally shot LaBoard, 33, and her mother, Althea Goss, 54, before he killed himself Sunday on Wadmalaw Island.
A 911 tape released Monday details their last moments together.
“No, no, no, please, please, please don’t kill me, please,” one of the women cries.
The voices on the call are faint, but quickly cut off by one piercing gunshot and even louder screaming. Then another gunshot. After some silence, Frasier can be heard making a phone call. Only bits and pieces of his conversation are audible.
“I did something stupid, man,” he says.
“What’s going on?” another voice asks.
“She cheated on me, man,” Frasier replies.
Later in the 911 tape, someone asks Frasier what he plans on doing.
“Well, I killed them, so a life for a life, so my own life,” he said.
Police found their bodies in LaBoard’s home at 1429 Richard McCloud Lane, where they had been called several times before involving domestic incidents. Frasier was also arrested before on a domestic violence charge, but never prosecuted.
Frasier and LaBoard had been in a relationship off and on for several years and had two children together, according to incident reports from the Charleston County Sheriff’s office. LaBoard also had another child.
Family member said the couple was together nearly a decade and didn’t deny the two had their fair share of problems.
“They were not on good terms,” said Frances Adrianne Tolbert, LaBoard’s cousin. “He was just crazy.”
LaBoard’s first documented call to deputies to the house on Richard McCloud Lane was July 10, 2010, after a violent argument, according to an incident report. She told deputies that during the argument Frasier slammed her head against a bedroom closet and hit her in the face before pushing her into a wall hard enough to crack it.
Deputies noted a lump on her forehead and a scratch on her wrist and wrote up an arrest warrant.
Frasier wasn’t arrested, however, until Oct. 17, 2010. He was charged with criminal domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature, but the charge was dropped after LaBoard would not cooperate, according to court records.
She again called deputies Dec. 5, 2010, after an argument with Frasier, but there was no indication of physical violence, according to that report.
Another call to deputies was made Sept. 22, 2012, after an argument between LaBoard and Frasier, but he left by the time deputies arrived. In that case, LaBoard said she walked out before the confrontation became physical.
Frasier’s cousin, Glenda Gordon, said Sunday that she, too, knew of issues between the couple, but never thought it would escalate to their deaths.
“To me, they just have problems, but little things,” she said, teary-eyed. “He was happy, but I guess some days outweigh (others).”
Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson did not go into the details of LaBoard and Frasier’s 2010 case, but said whether or not her office is able to prosecute a domestic violence charge with an uncooperative victim depends on what evidence prosecutors have in the case.
“Sometimes, a case is strong enough without the victim’s willingness to go forward,” she said. “In this one, the prosecutor (Jessica Baldwin) decided it was not. The specific facts of each case dictate whether or not we can prosecute without a victim.”
Wilson cited a recent case from another jurisdiction where a victim would not cooperate and the case fell apart.
“We lost a case last week when the victim backed off her original claims,” she added. “Unfortunately, all of this is just too common in domestic violence cases.”
Attorney General Alan Wilson told The Post and Courier during an interview last year that his office tries to press prosecution of criminal domestic violence cases, even if the woman does not want to cooperate. He said victims often feel guilty and embarrassed and are afraid their husband or boyfriend will be locked up.
To take that burden away from the victims, Wilson said he directs his prosecutors to tell them “this is not your cross to bear. This is my burden… He has committed a crime against the state.”
Wilson said he can see the relief in their faces when the burden is lifted from them. If the woman won’t testify, his office will “prosecute under other means.” If the victim of the abuse gave a statement to police at the time of the attack, and the officer documented it, that can be used at trial even if the woman does not want to testify or denies saying it.
Wilson said he tells reluctant victim witnesses that if they want to try to lessen the sentence of their abuser, they can say positive things about the guy during sentencing.
Adoption of a standardized, statewide investigation protocol to make sure police fully document all aspects of the crime scene, including statements from the accused, the victim and any witnesses, is among the recommendations of an investigative series on domestic violence conducted last year by The Post and Courier.
The series, titled “Till death do us part,” found that not only do many female victims refuse to cooperate with police, but more than a third of abusers had at least one prior arrest for criminal domestic violence. Sixty percent of those abusers had multiple prior arrests for domestic violence, the series revealed.
It was also found that guns were used to kill women in 65 percent of domestic violence cases over 10 years.
The series prompted both houses of the state Legislature to fast-track bills to improve the state’s domestic violence laws and ban firearms from convicted abusers.
Gov. Nikki Haley also empaneled a task force to take a yearlong look at what can be done to change the state’s culture that tolerates domestic abuse.
LaBoard’s reasons for not cooperating with police may never be known. But, like so many other cases in the Palmetto State, the signs were there.
Reach Melissa Boughton at 937-5594, Dave Munday at 937-5553 and Doug Pardue at 937-5558.