Woman accused in fatal hammer beating appears in court

Judge sets bail at $750,000




Murder suspect Donna Rae Williams told authorities she bludgeoned her husband of 30 years approximately two weeks ago with a hammer because she was fed up with his domestic abuse, according to court documents.

Williams, 51, of Vancouver made her first appearance Thursday morning in Clark County Superior Court on suspicion of first-degree murder. Judge Scott Collier set bail at $750,000.

According to a probable cause affidavit filed in court, Williams called 911 on Wednesday afternoon to report the homicide. When sheriff’s deputies arrived, they saw Williams outside smoking a cigarette. When they entered the home in the 12200 block of Northeast 76th Street, deputies found the body of Mark Williams, 55, in the back bedroom. His body was covered with blood-soaked bedding. There were red stains on the walls.

Questioned by sheriff’s investigators, Williams said that she struck her husband in the head “three or four times” on May 14, the morning after, she says, he punched her in the left eye, according to court documents. She said he had become upset when she confronted him about his cocaine use. Investigators said that Williams still had a black eye on Wednesday.

“Donna said that the following morning, she woke up early and looked in the mirror. When she did, she saw the injury to her eye and ‘became frustrated,'” according to the affidavit.

She said she went to retrieve a hammer in the garage and struck him while he slept. Williams said she believed he was still alive after hitting him several times. “I just let him lie there and die,” Williams reportedly told investigators, according to the affidavit.

She said she then walked to a convenience store, and when she returned home, Williams said her husband was still breathing, so she struck him in the head again.

Williams told investigators that her black eye was one example of what she described as an increasingly abusive marriage.

“Donna described the abuse as primarily verbal, but did describe one incident of unreported physical abuse,” according to the affidavit.

Senior Deputy Prosecutor Camara Banfield told reporters outside the courtroom that she didn’t know why Williams waited two weeks to notify police.

At the first court appearance, Banfield had requested Williams be held in the Clark County Jail without bail because of the significance of the attack. Banfield also told the judge that Williams had recently been arrested in Multnomah County, Ore., on suspicion of shoplifting and that she was showing increasingly erratic behavior.

“We believe the safety of the community and of Ms. Williams is at issue,” Banfield said.

Court-appointed defense attorney David Kurtz, requesting $250,000 bail, said Williams has a lack of criminal history in Clark County and has strong ties to the community. He also said there was a “strong indication of drug use.”

The judge then decided on the $750,000 bail.

Williams will be arraigned June 14.

Laura McVicker: www.twitter.com/col_courts; www.facebook.com/reportermcvicker; laura.mcvicker@columbian.com; 360-735-4516.