NEWBURY PARK : Defendant Says She Was a Battered Wife

A Newbury Park woman charged with ramming the back of a jacked-up car her husband was working underneath testified Thursday that she had been a battered wife.

Marcia Burns' testimony was cut short by a recess, however, and she did not address the charge for which she is on trial. She is scheduled to continue her testimony Tuesday.

Burns is charged with assault with a deadly weapon in connection with a wreck in which her 1984 Audi 5000 crashed into the jacked-up car. Jimmy Lee Burns moved before the vehicle landed on him and suffered only a minor shoulder injury, authorities said.

Marcia Burns initially was charged with attempted murder, but prosecutors reduced that to assault after her husband recanted part of his story, Deputy Dist. Atty. Tom Connors said. Jimmy Lee Burns told authorities he believed a mechanical problem caused his wife's car to surge into the jacked-up vehicle.

Marcia Burns said her husband, a brown belt karate expert, abused her on numerous occasions before and after their marriage in 1993. She testified that she had gone to both the police and a shelter for battered women.

She said that in December, 1992, her husband snatched her from her bed and smashed glass objects in the house before putting his hand around her throat. He told her, she said, that he could kill her by cutting off her oxygen.

Jimmy Lee Burns has told the jury that he assaulted his estranged wife only once, in 1992. On that occasion, he said, he caused her nose to bleed after striking her.

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