Judge denies use of DVSJA in Poughkeepsie murder trial

A rally gathered outside the Dutchess County Courthouse to support Nicole Addimando, found guilty of second degree murder. Her sentence was not reduced despite evidence of domestic abuse. Courtesy of Angus Bernet

[CW: This article discusses imprisonment, domestic violence, sexual violence, murder and emotional abuse.]

On Feb. 11, Dutchess County Judge Edward T. McLoughlin sentenced Nicole Addimando to 19 years to life in prison for criminal possession of a weapon and the murder of Christopher Grover, her live-in partner with whom she had two children. The decision came after a 12-person jury unanimously rejected her assertion of self-defense on April 12, 2019.

At approximately 2:16 a.m., on Sept. 28, 2017, Poughkeepsie police officer Richard Sisilli was en route to an unrelated incident when he found Addimando’s car paused before a green light on Taft Avenue. After he blew his air horn, she exited the car, her two children asleep in the backseat, and approached him about a fight she had with her partner (Poughkeepsie Journal, “Nicole Addimando defense aims to preclude statements to police,” 11.13.2018).

Addimando confessed to shooting Grover in self-defense to the police officer, citing years’ worth of physical, emotional and sexual abuse. She explained how Child Protection Services (CPS) had come to their apartment 24 hours earlier, after an anonymous call reported bruises on Addimando. She later testified that, as they lay on their sofa after the visit from CPS, Grover threatened to kill her if she left him. When he fell asleep, Addimando arose from the couch and unsuccessfully attempted to leave with the children. Grover produced a gun from between the couch cushions and pointed it at her. Addimando kneed him and grabbed the gun. The police later found Grover dead with a bullet lodged in his left temple (The Poughkeepsie Journal, “Addimando tells jury about shooting: ‘I just lunged and pulled the trigger,’” 03.28.2019).

Addimando, a graduate of Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School in Hyde Park, first met Grover in 2008 when they worked together as coaches at Mr. Todd’s Gymnastics (The New Yorker, “When Can a Woman Who Kills Her Abuser Claim Self-Defense?” 12.20.2019). After developing a close friendship, their relationship grew into a romantic one. Addimando even shared her history of childhood sexual abuse. The two stayed together after Addimando left Mr. Todd’s to obtain a teaching certificate and work as a student teacher in New Paltz. In 2011, she found employment at Vassar College.

Director of Wimpfheimer Julie Riess ’82 recalled first meeting Addimando after she came to work at the nursery school: “I met her [around 2011] because she was a primary caregiver for her nephew Noah, who was going to start Wimpfheimer as a two year old … I had met her a little bit and I really wanted her to apply for a job here. I heard amazing things and when Noah started she had the time to take on a teaching position.”

Riess continued, “We loved and adored her … We work with tons of college students. In doing that, you develop a sense of who is a good fit, who has got a lot of promise and who is a good match for kids and for being in a young children’s environment. Nikki was all those things.”

Riess first took notice of bruises and cuts on Addimando’s person in Oct. 2011. They had the card swipe access installed to provide Addimando an escape from the abuse: “We started trying to give her a safe place to go to. Because we had the card swipes, she could get here 24/7. I left her the little room next to my office and a sleeping bag for her, as well as a first aid kit. I don’t know if she ever used the overnight piece or not, but we did patch her up. Everything from bruises and cuts to cracked ribs. … Things got a little better, and then they got worse again.”

After becoming pregnant in 2012, Addimando left Wimpfheimer in the fall and gave birth to a son, Ben, in December. Various sources confirm that the abuse worsened when Ben was several weeks old, when Grover first forced himself on her. Riess stayed in touch with Addimando and described one incident that occurred during Addimando’s second pregnancy: “He took her head and he slammed it into the edge of the kitchen counter … Then he took a spoon and heated it and burned her all over her body.”

Another source who spoke on the condition of anonymity concurred with Riess’ assessment: “For two and a half years, I never saw her without a bruise. I saw her covering black eyes with sunglasses. I saw her with scarves covering red marks around her neck. I saw her twice with dislocated shoulders … She discussed with me the brutal rape that he did to her night after night after night, how she had to remain silent to not wake up her children.”

In cases of self-defense, the burden of proof falls upon the prosecution to disprove the defendant’s justification beyond reasonable doubt. Riess described suppression of evidence as the prosecution’s major strategy. Likewise, Putnam County Assistant District Attorney and chief prosecutor Chana Krauss rejected Addimando’s claims that Grover abused her. She instead cited an employee of Addimando’s mother who sexually assaulted her and a police officer with whom Addimando became involved after attempting to report Grover as possible abusers (The New Yorker). These individuals provided grounds for the court to question whether Grover could be proved, beyond a reasonable doubt, to be Addimando’s abuser.

Krauss asserted that Addimando was a manipulator who had emotionally abused Grover and killed him while in his sleep. She used texts from Addimando to Grover, such as “I have an asshole man child for a partner. That’s my disorder.” Furthermore, Krauss called to the stand Stuart Kirschner, a forensic psychologist who testified that videos depicting Grover and Adimando in rape scenes, which Grover posted to PornHub, were consensual (The New Yorker).

The day of the sentencing, friends and family gathered at a rally outside the Dutchess County Courthouse and hosted a vigil for 30-year-old Addimando, whom they call Nikki, in the common room of Christ Episcopal Church. Former Davison House Fellow Elizabeth Clifton helped organize both events, recalling through a cracked voice at the vigil: “She is able to think about other people’s needs and lives, and she remembers to ask details about them.”

Addimando’s defense team saw a glimmer of hope in May 2019, after Governor Cuomo signed into law the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act (DVSJA, NYS S. 1077). Specifically, the DVSJA amended existing laws to provide alternate sentences for victims of domestic violence (DV). It defines DV Alternative Sentence eligibility with respect to crimes committed due to coercion by an abuser; against the defendant’s abuser; or at the behest (at the request or order) of the defendant’s abuser (Pro Se Practice, “Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act: Resentencing Options,” 09.04.2019). However, Judge McLoughlin denied applying the DVSJA, stating to the prosecution and defense teams that Grover could not be verified as Addimando’s abuser. He also asserted that Addimando had various opportunities to leave the home she shared with Grover.

Though Grover’s family could not be contacted for a comment, several relatives and close friends shared their thoughts on social media. Multiple individuals expressed relief and appreciation for what they see as justice having been served on Grover’s behalf.

The People vs. Nicole Addimando dragged on for nearly two and a half years, during which her family paid thousands of dollars in legal fees. Clifton and Michelle Horton, Addimando’s sister, established the Addimando Defense Committee: “Our goal is to support her, to help raise money for her defense, and support her in telling her truth.”

The Defense Committee plans to continue advocating for Addimando and assist in finding attorneys to appeal the decision. The DVSJA will not only be central to the appeal, but The People vs. Nicole Addimando will establish its application in New York State case law.


  1. Glad they’re keeping her locked up, like she deserves. It’s about time for women to be held accountable for their actions as well.

    • You must be joking. Clearly.
      You can’t think that the behavior of the abuser is acceptable, unless of course, you are an abuser. Which means you are a coward.
      If a woman has to be held accountable for her actions, doesn’t a man as well? Where was his accountability? Oh, there was none, because by nature he is stronger and forced himself on her and abused her.

      You, sir, are a special kind of pathetic and I wish I could just have a chance to show you how much of a coward you are.

      • please, you’re the type of person who ignores the facts and believes the emotion. They investigated him, they had zero claims of abuse or visits to the house , the neighbors reported no yelling and arguing. Just because it has been said does not mean its true.
        Now, God forgive me if I am wrong but a jury of 12 and no evidence is usually a pretty good reason to believe him over her

      • Nobody deserves to die. If the abuse was that bad, just leave. Every house has a door to walk out of.

        • This is an ignorant comment, spoken by someone who hasn’t the faintest idea as to what is involved in trying to leave an abuser. Leaving an abuser is dangerous, if not impossible, in some situations.

    • Lol, yes because statistics prove as such. With men being the primary victims.
      Yes, it’s about time women stood up against this travesty of a broken system. Hoping you are sans females in your life. Because if not, I feel for them

      • What A joke. He was shot in the temple. In the history of battling for a gun nobody has been shot in the temple. Try reading the story and paying attention. Then make an informed decision.

    • You must have missed the documentation from multiple hospitals, the state rape unit, her therapist etc. then. This woman was sexually abused at an early age. She was vulnerable and abusers are very good at picking women who have already been abused. The forensic psychologist is a joke. He couldn’t talk to Grover bc he was dead so I am guessing he took his family’s word that he was not an abuser. And he knows the pornhub video was consensual. Did he talk to Grover via ouiji board? Krauss is a disgusting human being. No ONE takes years of abuse the way she is claiming. And her text messages – it is called reactive abuse. The victim finally reacts “you are a man-child” and then the abuser calls them themselves the abused.
      I don’t know how that woman lives with herself

    • This ruling is heinous, and only another sadistic serial abuser would find this acceptable. The judge should be held accountable for his role of this complete abuse of the legal system, a fund set up for her legal defense, and damages paid.. This woman was tortured continuously by the sadistic monster she was accused of crimes against.
      Furthermore, pornography has been proven to have contributed exponentially to violence and harm of girls and women world wide, should be shut down immediately. New legislation must be enacted to ensure the ability to imprison all officers, owners and executives of such sites. These actions should not fall under any completely misguided protection of any kind of freedom of free right to speech, nor freedom of expression, as there never existed, nor would have existed any original intent for.

  2. Her claims were thoroughly investigated, and no evidence was found that he abused her.

    Let’s not forget she was proven guilty by a jury that witnessed the actual evidence.

    • This is not true ! This whole thing began because someone reported to cps she was black and blue ????? Read. More !

  3. LOL She plays a “victim” and tons of #metoo women come to her side. Just because a person tells you “their version” of a story doesn’t mean it is true. You have to hear both sides yet #metoo victims are biased. They all jump on a bandwagon to support each other against the big bad terrible men.

    Unlike any of us “readers”, a judge and jury heard BOTH sides of it. In some cases when a jury get’s it “wrong” in a judges opinion, judges have set aside a verdict and created his or her own. That didn’t happen in this case. She chose to pick up that gun and kill her boyfriend.

    This isn’t 1940 where women kept silent or suffered or reported it and found zero relief. This is 2020 and every single woman knows right now that they are “empowered” and know their rights! Yet they still want to fall back on the old adage “I’m just a girl and he was so mean to me” type rhetoric that it just doesn’t work anymore in the courts.
    She has no one else to blame but herself. She could have just called up her parents and took her kids and left. A brother? Sister? Cousin? Aunt? Uncle? Grandparents? Best friend? Anyone? No, she chose to shoot him in the head while he slept. Imagine her cowardess as she pulled that trigger.

    The #metoo movement loses less and less credibility every time women gather behind another and blindly accept their version of the story and stand behind them without being informed. I’m sure her dead husbands family had a few things to say about and did so in court. Remember again, a judge and jury heard what was going on and they just did not believe her stories.

    Why did not doctors summon the police after her “claims of abuse?” More importantly, he worked. If he beat and raped her over a pattern of YEARS, again, why didn’t she call someone and just leave?

    Because she wanted vengeance. She picked up that gun and BOOM. She is certainly no battered woman that deserves pity. If he was asleep she certainly was not in any imminent danger. I believe the prosecutor did a great job in “labeling” her the master manipulator that she was. Her sentence was light in my opinion. The law is there for both sides, men and women no matter who the abuser is. The law is the safeguard that one person can’t just up and kill another without giving them the benefit of charges, a trial and jury. She took away his right of that to provide his defense and his side of the story when she murdered him. People keep forgetting that little tidbit.

    She has no one but herself to blame for being in this situation. Imagine if she had waited until he went to work and then took those kids and went to her parents house and separated. He’d still be alive today and they’d be in children’s court over visitation and custody and child support. Instead, she picked up a gun. I applaud the prosecutor for doing an outstanding job. I don’t even think the Supreme Court would hear her case.

    • This is coming from a #metoo Man! After reading the book you wrote, lol…
      i just had to reply. The reality is that there was sufficient evidence that she was sexually abused! And for you to ignore the evidence and not admit that there was an injustice here, is very insensitive on your part! If you have a wife and or daughters I feel very sorry for them!

    • You have no clue ! Ignorant to real life and abusive men ! It is well recorded that it really is not that simple !!!! She was afraid to loose her children! Her parents weren’t Privileged and loaded and struggled themselves! You have no clue!

    • I agree! But even if she was innocent or not, nowadays, many women still do not have their full rights. Thus, some are biased as they feel that men are more terrible then women as there are many cases of young women being raped and abused and even killed. In poorer countries, girls are sold to older men and the boys are still much more preferred than girls. I feel that girls deserve as much as boys. They should not be limited based on their physical features.

    • You are staggeringly stupid. Staggeringly. The jury voted that way because the district attorney suppressed evidence and smeared this woman in an unimaginable way. You do know she had the public defender who had been assigned to Nikki ( they had been working together for 11 months) removed from her case at the 11 hour right by fluffing up a minor conflict – the PD has worked as a victims advocate on another case against her. The PD vigorously objected. Nikki had to pay for 2 attorneys who had 1 month to prepare. Neither of whom had ever been involved in a domestic violence case.
      The DA stated publically in an article BEFORE the trial that she had friends telling her from the very beginning that Nikki was lying. She should have been removed from the case. Her expert witness said Grover had no signs of an abuser – how the jell would he know. Grover was dead! He never even met him. And he said the “rape porn” he posted of Nikki was consensual. Excuse me?
      The DA went in from the beginning saying Nikki was lying about the abuse and self inflicting. Then used she is always been abused by every man in her life isn’t that interesting. It is pretty textbook actually. Women who are abused have low self esteem often because of the abuse and are easy targets for the next abuser.
      The DA not only did a disservice to Nikki but to every single woman (and man) who has been a victim of abuse.
      There was tons of evidence – she got it all thrown out.

  4. When men get life in prison for beating the crap out of women, then you can all cheer for this verdict. And as far as statistics go, women don’t just kill men because they woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Women represent less than 18% of all homicides. And I guess all the people who knew her where on this conspiracy too, and claimed she was beaten when she wasn’t. Quite the thing, right? And that shrink who decided the sex was consensual must have quite the sexlife. Or maybe he’s just so used to viewing violent sex that he can’t tell a rape when he sees it. We’re back in the medival ages, when a wife who killed (an abusive) husband was burnt on the stake, whereas the man who killed he wife was let go. And we’re told misogyny is a myth. Uh huh.

    • Well said again!!!! Thank god people are fighting for Nikki in this complete farce of a fair trial !!!!! The evidence of abuse was clear !

  5. I’m glad she did what she had to do!! I stand with Nikki. I hope you get out soon baby girl. You did not deserve any of this awe full pain he afflicted on you. Stay strong !

  6. The prosecutor citing a sexual assault by a former worker for Nikki’s mom and a police officer Nikki had a relationship with following a physical abuse report as REASONS we should conclude that Mr. Grover was not the only potential physical and sexual abuser is disgusting as a set practice by AMERICAN prosecutors and their standard operating procedures. My heart goes out to Nikki. A 5 year sentence and her out in 2 1/2 years was my hope. We.re with ya Nikki. We need to have more Womens Shelters, funds to help them through times to avoid violence and physical and mental abuse, and a FEDERAL RESTRAINING LAW with teeth to override weak state laws.

    • I hate that there arepeople that can’t see why she couldn’t leave I watched my mother getting abused by thr hands of my father when I wasa child. I stand by you Nicki I pray you get a judge that sees you as a victim

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