Teresa Mayes, wife of the late Adam Mayes, has admitted to authorities that she was present for the gruesome killings of thirty-one-year-old Jo Ann Bain and fourteen-year-old Adrienne Bain. In addition, she has admitted to assisting with the removal of the two bodies and the transportation of the two kidnapped girls across state lines. She has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two-counts of aggravated kidnapping for her admitted role in these crimes.
Despite the egregious nature of these crimes, Teresa Mayes likely has a fairly solid defense.
In an interview with Nancy Grace, Teresa Mayes' mother revealed that her daughter, Teresa, suffers from various learning disabilities. The exact nature of these disabilities remains unclear at this time, but according to Teresa Mayes' mother, doctors did not expect that Teresa Mayes would be able to successfully graduate high school. With that being said, an insanity defense may be appropriate in this case.
Under Tennessee law, Teresa Mayes will be excused on grounds of insanity if she proves by clear and convincing evidence that, at the time of the offense: (1) she was suffering from a severe mental disease or defect; and (2) as a result of that mental disease or defect, she was unable to appreciate the nature and quality of her conduct; or the wrongfulness of her conduct.
Insanity, if proven at trial, operates as a complete defense to the charged crime. That is, successful assertion of the insanity defense results in an acquittal on grounds of insanity.
Battered Woman Syndrome
In her interview with Nancy Grace, Teresa Mayes' mother also revealed that Teresa was a victim of domestic violence. According to Teresa's mother, Adam Mayes was controlling and physically abusive.
In the case of a battered woman, a cycle of violence induces a state of "learned helplessness" which keeps the battered woman in the relationship. The cycle begins with an initial building of tension and violence, culminates in an explosion, and ends with a "honeymoon." The battered woman is captive. She begins to believe her husband is omnipotent, and resistance will be futile at best. And, of course, given Teresa Mayes' learning disabilities, she was likely more susceptible to fall victim to Adam Mayes' controlling and abusive ways than an average woman.
To be clear, the battered woman syndrome defense is generally asserted in self-defense cases where an abused woman attacks her abuser. However, the theory underlying the traditional battered woman syndrome defense may, nevertheless, prove helpful to Teresa Mayes' defense. If anything, her status as a battered woman demonstrates an inability to appreciate the nature and qualify of her conduct due to her captor's control over her.