Domestic Violence, Part I
|Antoinette Corum was a victim of domestic violence. |
What about Antoinette?
Domestic violence awareness month in October
On April 8, 2006, the body of Antoinette Corum was found in a motor home in the Horse Canyon area of Emery County. Her life ended after a series of events involving domestic violence. She had been strangled by her partner of many years who had previously served prison time in Nevada for the same type of incident against her. As he went through the system, articles were written about him and it left some on the Emery County Domestic Violence Coalition asking, "What about Antoinette?"
Antoinette was part of a large close-knit family. Her sister, Marshell, has been the contact person between them and the coalition. The defendant appeared for pronouncement of judgment in this case on June 21. Marshell addressed the court at that time for their family. This is what she said on the record:
I write this on behalf of our family which is spread across the country, and myself of course, here also with my son. We came from Tennessee. My sister, Antoinette Corum, Toni, was born July 15, 1946. She was the oldest of four children by Elsworth Sr. and Marietta Corum. My parents waited nine years for their eldest child, Toni, because our father was serving our country during WWII, and because our parents wanted the best for their children. Toni was their pride and joy. A child prodigy on the piano, she could play the piano by the time she was four years old. She excelled in school and never quit at anything she started. When we came along she paved the way for us as children to make it in this world, along with our parents. My sister was always there for me.
We have another sister, Tracy, who was born with cerebral palsy. She was the only one who initially found out that our sister was murdered. She was devastated. You have to understand that we had just lost our beloved mother, Marietta Corum, approximately a month and a half prior to this hideous crime. Our mother was 85 years old and our world. The only blessing we had was that our mother never knew her first-born had been killed so viciously-this would have killed her. We come from a large family and when I had to call the same people who I had spoken to just a month and a half prior about our mother, it was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. Our cousins, aunts and uncles, friends are all doing a double-grieving at this time at our loss. Mom's loss was hard. She had lived a long life, but my sister's is another story she's only 59 years old. She was supposed to grow old with us. We were supposed to share responsibility and love and care for our baby sister, Tracy. We were supposed to see our children and grand children grow and mature into responsible loving adults, and spend our golden years together, as we had in our youth. All this was taken away in an insane irresponsible way by a creature who strangled the life out of my sister. I say creature not man because a man would have protected his woman, not killed her. I personally cry every time I think of what happened to my sister. I still can't believe it. I'll never be able to talk and laugh and confide in her again. The murderer's family can still speak to him. I can't speak to my sister.
My family and myself want Toni's murderer to receive the maximum sentence possible without parole. He cannot bring my sister back and he should pay for what he has done not just to Toni but to her family. When he murdered her he murdered a part of each of us. There is a hole in our hearts and we can't start to repair until we know justice is being done. This person should never have the opportunity to hurt another person or their family and I hope you take that into consideration," said Marshell.
Judge George M. Harmond Jr., did take that into consideration. He told the defendant that there is no offense more serious than a murder. He stated concern about the involvement of alcohol in the offense and that after serving time in prison for a similar domestic violence charge, the defendant had an opportunity to change his actions and he chose not to take it. Judge Harmond then sentenced the defendant one to 15 years in the Utah State Prison for second-degree felony manslaughter; and for purchase, transfer, possession or use of a firearm by restricted person and abuse or desecration of a human body, both third-degree felonies, up to five year sentences. The Board of Pardons will determine how much time he will actually spend in prison.
In conversations after sentencing, Marshell elaborated about Toni and her family. Toni was a gifted musician. She excelled in classical, jazz and contemporary music. She taught musicians like Jimmy McGriff how to read music. She was smart. She graduated magna cum laude from Essex County College with an associate's degree, then her bachelor's degree in music from Upsala College. She had her teaching degree and substituted at high school and taught adults after that. Toni was fluent in Spanish, Latin and Italian. She married after college, had one daughter (a very private girl) and later divorced. Her daughter has her masters in business administration and language and teaches Spanish to immigrants. Many of their family members are very educated.
When she was first out of high school, Toni worked for Merv Griffin as a personal assistant in New York City. She helped out with her family when their father died. He had been a master chef on cruise ships and merchant marines and the head chef at Seaton-Hall for 20 years. When a food company took over he went back to sea. When young, Toni and her brother (now a retired detective and Port Authority officer) helped out selling peanuts and Cracker Jacks at ball games. She taught computer programming for a company when they first started using computers in the 1970s. She was a performer and music was her love. She sang and played keyboard on cruise ships in Alaska and worked for Bell Telephone. She ended up performing in Las Vegas and that's where she met the man who would later take her life. They had dated three or four years before he went to prison for strangling her. Marshell went out there, packed her bags and took Toni home. She doesn't understand where her head was. Toni took great care of the place for a couple of years then left without letting them know. She had said she loved him-regardless of his mean streak Marshell would have done everything she could to stop Toni from going back to him. Now she will never have a chance to know if she could have changed her mind.
Three years ago Marshell, Tracy and their mother were in a bad accident with a drunk driver who had been angry and used drinking as an excuse for everything. Because of that, she was angry that the defendant used as an excuse, his and Toni's shared alcohol problem. According to Marshell, Toni was a beautiful woman with a drinking problem which probably had to do with the entertainment business, late hours, working in clubs, free drinks, good times, hotels and being on the road a lot. That is not the greatest environment. Everything takes a toll. "Alcohol did not kill my sister-he killed my sister." She went on to say that people need to be responsible for drinking and driving or murdering people. Marshell trusted him when he told her on the phone that he loved and would take care of her sister and there was nothing in the world he wouldn't do for her. "He took her away from my family-it hurts a lot...she was not perfect. At the same time she didn't deserve for this to happen to her. How could you do that and feel that life leave?" He also uses being a veteran as an excuse. She doesn't buy that either. Offering advice to others who may have a loved one involved in a violent relationship, Marshell said to reach out as much as you can-see the downfalls. You can't make someone do something they don't want to do. Toni didn't protect herself from his "mean streak." Maybe she thought she could.
Marshell didn't have the opportunity to tell the defendant's brothers that she respects and thanks them for being men and doing the right thing by letting the authorities know what had been done. That took a lot to do. She doesn't blame them or hold them accountable for what he did. She also mentioned that she felt they were well treated by the Emery County Sheriff's Office and the County Attorney's Office. The prosecuting attorney and detective were very understanding.
The Emery County Domestic Violence Coalition would like to encourage families experiencing any violence- emotional, verbal or physical -to acknowledge problems and reach out for help. Don't ignore problems-do something about them. Remember that any abuse of a family member is always wrong and never acceptable. Check your libraries for books or other resources on how to change behaviors that contribute to conflict Take a parenting class through Four Corners. Call Kathy Anderson at 381-4743 for information on other resources.