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Kansas man gets life sentence for murdering his wife, who was carrying a protective order against him when she died

Gene Birdsong (Jackson County Detention Center)

Gene Birdsong (Jackson County Detention Center)

A 47-year-old man from Kansas will spend the rest of his life behind bars for brutally beating his wife before stabbing her to death in Kansas City, Missouri five years ago.

A Jackson County judge ordered Gene Birdsong on Thursday to serve a sentence of life in prison without the possibility for parole plus an additional 17 years for the slaying of his wife 40-year-old Tabitha Birdsong. She was found carrying a court order of protection against her husband in her back pocket at the time of her death, prosecutors said.

According to a press release from the county prosecutor’s office, a jury found Birdsong guilty in February of one count of first-degree murder and one count of armed criminal action in his wife’s death. Under Kansas state law, an individual convicted of first-degree murder must serve a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Following the verdict, jurors also recommended that Birdsong be sentenced to an additional 17 years on the armed criminal action charge — which matched with the recommendation submitted to the court by prosecutors.

“I’m grateful for this trial team that has carried this case for years, since it began,” prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said in a statement when Birdsong was convicted. “Today we should first all remember Tabitha, who lost her life at the hands of her domestic abuser. Obviously, nothing we could do would bring her back. But it was our honor to fight for her.”

Court documents show that officers with the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department responded to a 911 call on Nov. 6, 2018 regarding an unresponsive female located at an intersection in Kansas City’s Roanoke Park. Upon arriving at the scene, first responders located the victim, saying she had sustained “obvious head injuries.” The victim — later identified as Tabitha Birdsong — was pronounced dead on the scene.

“They also found in her pocket an order of protection with her and the defendant’s name on it,” prosecutors wrote in the press release.

Police interviewed witnesses who reported seeing and hearing Birdsong and his wife together just hours before she was killed. Witnesses also told investigators that they saw Birdsong on the night of his wife’s murder wearing a pair of bloody pants.

One of the witnesses described the pants as being completely “blood-soaked,” the Kansas City Star reported.  Additionally, police said that they found bloody clothing inside of the room where Birdsong had been staying.

According to the Star, Birdsong had a history of violence against his wife and had previously been convicted on domestic battery charges in 2009 and 2010. In 2015, Tabitha Birdsong filed for — and was granted — an order of protection against her husband, which he subsequently violated the following year.

Birdsong served about three months in jail for violation of a court order of protection before he was released.

Approximately five months later, Tabitha Birdsong was murdered.

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.