Victim’s Family Doubts Christmas Shooting Was Self-Defense

Posted at 7:24 AM, Dec 31, 2012
and last updated 2013-01-15 17:53:19-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — New information from social media is shedding more light on what may have happened Christmas Day when Taneesha Smith shot her boyfriend Darwin Weathers in her Grand Rapids apartment.

Smith told police it was self-defense. However, Weathers’ family isn’t so sure.

“I was hoping to see him on Christmas Day,” said Darwin’s mother, Yvonne Weathers. She said she last talked to Darwin about four hours before Taneesha shot and killed him.

When she heard the news, she was devastated. “I didn’t think. I just started screaming.”

With tears in her eyes, Yvonne read from a Christmas card she had bought for her son: “When a son is as wonderful as you, you just can’t help but love him more every year. Wishing you a very, very, merry Christmas.”

“And I didn’t get to give it to him,” she said. “When I give it to him, it’s going to be in his casket, and that’s not fair because that’s my baby. She didn’t have to do that to my baby. She took my son down there and killed him.”

Jiteshia Taylor, Darwin’s sister, said she talked to him on Christmas Day, and there was no hint anything was wrong, except that Darwin was planning to leave for soon for Saginaw. “He wanted to bring everyone their Christmas gifts,” she said.

But Taneesha wrote a somewhat chilling post on Facebook at about 3:05 p.m. Christmas Day. “I thank God for letting me wake up today an i was happy to see a smile on my kids face but far as my personal life if I had to wake up to this BS I could have stayed sleep all day lord u now my heart but I’m sick of this cause I’m bout to have a brake down sick of not being happy where is my happiness in life smh merry Christmas everybody.”

Taneesha and Darwin had company until about 5:00 p.m., Jiteshia said. The shooting took place just over two hours later, at 7:30 p.m. Then came the arrest and the alleged confession.

“The person she called with the one phone call, she told them that my brother was dead, and she asked what happened, and she said, I guess, they were supposedly arguing,” said Jiteshia. “First she said she pulled out the gun, and then she said it fell out of his pocket, and as they went for it and they were tussling and it went off and he ran out of the apartment, which there was no blood in the apartment.”

Darwin’s family says the story doesn’t make sense.

“I went to the apartment,” said Jiteshia. “If he was shot in the apartment and ran out, there was no traces of blood. It was a carpeted stairs no blood anywhere. And I can’t understand why she would shoot him three times in self defense.”

Neighbors heard the couple running down the stairs the night of the shooting. They said it did sound as if someone was trying to escape. “You could hear them coming down the steps like a commotion, like he was trying to get away,” said a neighbor.

“To me it felt like she shot my son when he was trying to leave, and that’s not self defense,” said Yvonne.

When Jiteshia went to identify her brother’s body, she said he had no bruises, scratches, or signs of a struggle. “The only injuries he had was the wounds from where she shot him,” said Jiteshia. “She missed once.”

Jiteshia said a bullet grazed Darwin’s head and the other went into his side.

Darwin Weathers did have a criminal record stretching back about 10 years, including at least one felony gun charge and three domestic violence reports. He served prison time for a weapons violation.

Taneesha had previously filed a report with the Buena Vista Township Police Department in September stating Darwin had threatened her after an argument over custody of their child. She claimed he pushed her down, pulled out a black semiautomatic pistol from his back, racked the slide, and pointed it at her saying, “I’m not messing with you, I’ll kill you.” The report said she planned to press charges.

However, just about a month later, after moving to Grand Rapids, Taneesha asked Darwin to move there with her, Darwin’s family says. They say she helped arrange for the transportation to get him there.

A Facebook post from October appears to back up his family’s claims that she wasn’t afraid of Weathers. In the post, Taneesha spoke of her happiness over an alleged engagement: “He purpose to me wit a diamond ring I started crying he slip it on my finger an I said yes (in my Kelly price voice) –”

“I believe my brother was planning to leave her, and she didn’t want him to,” said Jiteshia

Taneesha’s family declined comment when we tried to talk to them Friday in Saginaw. Darwin’s family said police shouldn’t let his past record cloud the facts of the case. “You shouldn’t use someone’s history,” said Jiteshia. “I mean, any reports she was supposed to have was hearsay. Never was he taken into custody for anything she said he did.”

“He had a birthday on January 11,” said Yvonne. “He would be 35. He was my first son, my only son, and I loved him dearly.”

Darwin’s family said his funeral is scheduled Thursday in Saginaw.

The Kent County Prosecutor’s Office says they are still working to see if charges should be filed against Taneesha Smith.