CHARLOTTE — A woman who confessed to killing her boyfriend is not going to prison.
Traci Bell pleaded guilty in court Monday for shooting and killing her boyfriend, Andrew Nichols, last year in northwest Charlotte. Her defense attorney Jeremy Smith argued she endured eight years of life-threatening abuse which led to the shooting.
“This case I worried about a lot. I really didn't want her to go to prison today," said Smith.
The fact Bell is able to walk out of the Mecklenburg court house is relief to her and her family.
"She is relieved; she is a bundle of nerves. She didn't sleep last night; she was scared to death," said Smith.
On Monday, Bell agreed to plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter for shooting her boyfriend, Andrew Nichols, at their home on Mount Holly road last year. Investigators at the time classified the killing as a domestic incident.
But according to Smith, it went much further than that.
"She was basically a hostage in her own house," said Smith.
Smith argued that Bell has been beaten for eight years. Bell took the stand and testified that she had been stabbed with screwdrivers, beaten with bottles, regularly beaten two or more times a week, and even had her life threatened by Nichols.
Smith said last year's shooting was merely self defense.
"We didn't want him dead. She said on the stand she did not want that to happen," said Smith.
A judge sided with Bell. She was given probation instead of prison time and a short stay in the Mecklenburg County jail.
Monday marked the beginning of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.