Naples, Florida

From the Bonita Daily News of October 16, 2007

Woman portrayed as battered spouse acquitted of attempted murder

A 48-year-old North Naples woman who shot her husband in the face was acquitted of attempted murder Tuesday in a case domestic violence advocates hope will prompt battered women to come forward at the first signs of abuse.

The four-woman, two-man jury deliberated roughly 2 1/2 hours before acquitting Victoria Vawn Dales of attempted first-degree premeditated murder, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and shooting inside a building in the June 20, 2004, shooting of her third husband, Michael W. Dales.

The verdict means jurors had reasonable doubt or believed Dales was justified and acted in self-defense. The early morning shooting at 387 Huntington Drive in Victoria Park shattered 35-year-old Michael Dales’ jaw when a bullet pierced his lower lip, lodging in his spine. Dales, a crane operator with law enforcement training, testified he lost part of his jaw.

During the four-day trial, prosecutors portrayed Dales as jealous and possessive, pushed to kill after catching her husband on the phone with a woman and learning he planned to leave her. The defense, however, painted him as possessive, obsessive and violent, a man who controlled everything from the clothes she wore, to her jobs and friends. They say he attacked her after she threatened to leave and painted her as a victim of battered spouse syndrome who’d survived two serious prior beatings and suffocation attempts.

Testimony concluded Friday with a battle of forensic psychologists who disputed whether she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and battered spouse syndrome.



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