A murder in Nashville
A murder in Nashville
On Tuesday, December 2, a bullet ended the life of 30 year old Shellie Hernandez. She was killed by her boyfriend/father of three of her five children. While murders are not that uncommon in Nashville, as there is one every two or three days, this one made the news. Nashville’s drive by media quickly picked up on the story and the mantra, “the system failed this woman.” According to the media, especially Nashville’s rather worthless paper, the Tennessean, the system failed Shellie Hernandez by not keeping her killer in jail on a probation violation and by not going out and taking guns away from every man who has had an order of protection taken out on him. Almost every story about this case featured that theme. None of the stories want to talk about her and her personal responsibility in these events.
While none of the stories in the media say exactly when or where Shellie Hernandez met the man who would kill her, by 2007, it was clear their relationship, which by that time had produced at least two children, was seriously in trouble. Williams was a convicted felon, with more than 50 arrests. As a convicted felon, he was not supposed to have a weapon, though the media seems to have, for the most part, ignored that.
While Davidson County’s Criminal Court Clerk’s office does put some of it’s records online, they are difficult to search and do not show what the ultimate outcome of cases was. The records show that on January 1, 2007, Williams was arrested for the first of the aggravated assaults he was charged with. On this one, Shellie Hernandez found another woman’s phone number in his wallet. He pulled a gun on her and said, “Maybe I should get rid of you.” He also told her that if she took a warrant out on him, he would just bond out, come back and kill her.
You would think that it would take only one such incident to convince someone that a person like Williams was dangerous and should never be seen again. Yet, a short four months later, they were at it again. Shellie Hernandez began fighting with him about the fact he was selling drugs again and hanging out at the projects. At that point, Williams slammed her against the wall and broke the drywall. She followed him outside, as he was taking her car keys. At that point, he pointed a gun at her, telling her to go back into the apartment. When Williams was arrested, Hernandez went down and took out an order of protection, which told Williams he was not to have any contact with Hernandez. Williams called her, after receiving a copy of that order, threatening to kill her and her son.
Again, common sense would suggest after that, she would not have anything else to do with the man. Unfortunately, common sense was uncommonly short in this case.
By November of 2008, the two were having more problems. On November 4, 2008, the two, presumably living together, began to argue about the fact Williams was not working and was not paying any of the bills. He pulled a handgun on her and made gestures, as if he was going to shoot her. Then he put a pillow over her face and tried to smother her. Again, Hernandez sought an order of protection that Williams quickly violated.
Williams was on probation when he had committed the most recent crime. His probation should have been violated and he, most likely, would have been held in jail, until a hearing could be held. His probation officer failed to file a probation violation warrant and has since been fired.
The tragic end of Shellie Hernandez’s life is not a case of the system failing, by not violating his probation or not checking to see if he had surrendered something he was not supposed to have to begin with. Shellie Hernandez carries the ultimate responsibility for what happened to her.
On the day she died, she met with Michael Williams and took her back to her bedroom. She gave a friend of hers a cell-phone, telling her to call 911 if she heard anything. A few minutes later, the friend heard screaming and she called 911. Hernandez ran out of the bedroom and was shot by Michael Williams, in an act that was totally predictable. How many threats does it take before someone gets the idea that their partner is dangerous? She had repeated warnings and those are just the one’s that there are court records for.
The drive by media has been screaming that the system failed this woman and that the State isn’t doing enough to take away firearms people who have not been convicted of a crime. This was like a bad horror movie, where the next victim walks into a room, where the monster is and everyone knows what will happen. Shellie Hernandez could have prevented her killing. Yet she went back to this man time and time again. The end was as predictable as a Detroit Lions loss.
There is blame for Shellie Hernandez’s murder. But don’t tell us the system failed her. The system did what it was supposed to do. She failed the system.