Woman Convicted Of Murder Claims She Shot Her Abusive Boyfriend In Self-Defense
“I'll live with this for the rest of my life,” Nikki Addimando says, acknowledging she’s both a “victim and perpetrator.”
A New York woman was sent to prison for killing her boyfriend, but while she claims she was the victim of domestic violence, his family insists he was a “loving partner and father.”
In July 2018, Nicole “Nikki” Addimando pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter, and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon in connection with the fatal shooting of 29-year-old Christopher Grover the prior year.
“It was kill or be killed,” Addimando recently told ABC News of shooting Grover. “I think there's a misunderstanding about victim and perpetrator. I think it's hard to understand that someone can be both.”
Addimando and Grover began dating in 2008, moved in together four years later and then welcomed two children, a son and daughter, now 10 and 7.
Former preschool teacher Addimando later claimed her boyfriend had grown increasingly abusive over time, and she thought if she “could make him happy, it would stop or that things would go back to how they were.”
She said they never did, and at about 2 a.m. on Sept. 28, 2017, Town of Poughkeepsie police pulled Addimando over when she failed to drive through a stoplight that had turned green, the Times Union reported.
Addimando confessed to officers she had shot gymnastics coach Grover, who was found dead on the couch at the couple’s home. Addimando alleged she felt like she was in imminent danger when she murdered the father of her children.
She recently told ABC News one reason she didn’t leave the relationship was because of her son and daughter. "I don't know how, [but] I thought that I was protecting them by staying. I really believed that,” she said.
During her three-week trial that began in March 2019, prosecutors told the jury Grover was shot while sleeping, though a medical examiner could not confirm if the victim was awake or not when Addimando pulled the trigger. Prosecutors also pointed out Grover was never charged with domestic violence.
Addimando’s attorneys countered photo documentation, reports, the testimony of a mental health counselor the defendant went to for help and other evidence clearly indicated the mother was a victim of abuse.
In April 2019, a jury convicted Addimando of second-degree murder and a weapons charge. She received a sentence of 19 years to life in prison in February 2020.
“You didn’t have to kill him,” Dutchess County Judge Edward McLoughlin told Addimando at her sentencing hearing, the Times Union reported. In his decision, the judge noted the defendant “had the opportunity to safely leave her alleged abuser” before she fatally shot him.
Grover’s loved ones adamantly opposed Addimando as she unsuccessfully pleaded for clemency following her conviction. According to the Times Union, they wrote in a Change.org petition that Grover was “maliciously and unfairly taken from this world by the mother of his children” and claimed that “Nicole told multiple misleading stories throughout the trial and after of the night she killed Christopher and of their entire relationship.”
In 2019, New York enacted a new state law called the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act that gives judges leeway in resentencing domestic violence survivors if abuse contributed to their criminal behavior. Though the judge who presided over Addimando’s criminal trial found her case didn’t fit the parameters of the law, an appellate court disagreed, ruling that the “defendant established, through her lengthy testimony, photographs, and other evidence that Grover repeatedly abused her physically and sexually.”
The appellate court reduced Addimando’s sentence to 7.5 years, and she’s expected to be released from the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in 2024. “I felt found, finally, by them, and heard,” she said of the court and ruling.
Grover’s mother said in a statement the decision was a slap in the face. “We believe Nikki's accusations of abuse are untrue and maintain Chris was a peaceful, loving partner and father," she said.
Addimando acknowledges she caused Grover’s family “so much pain in their lives” and insists she shares their hurt.
“I'll live with this for the rest of my life. Knowing the pain that I've caused so many people, playing over and over again, all the things that I did and that I didn't do,” Addimando told ABC News. “I can't change that now. but I think to move towards healing and turn something positive out of this is the only way to move forward. I desperately feel the weight to empower other survivors before it's too late, before they end up where I am, or worse. I just feel that responsibility.”
If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic violence or abuse from a romantic partner, you can visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline website, call 1.800.799.SAFE, or text START to 88788 for help. Advocates are available 24/7 to help callers talk through their situation and connect them with local resources. There is no charge to reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline.