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North Texas Rep. Pete Sessions Says Man Killed Wife Due To Her 'Unfair' Court Demands

Christopher Connelly
U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Dallas, spoke at a town hall in Richardson, Texas, in March 2017.

North Texas congressman Pete Sessions is drawing criticism for recent remarks about a domestic violence incident, in which he seems to imply a woman was killed by her husband because she won an “unfair” divorce settlement.

A Sessions spokeswoman says the longtime North Dallas congressman misspoke, but his Democratic challenger pounced, accusing Sessions of excusing domestic violence.

At an event in Dallas filmed by a conservative local activist, Sessions was asked about issues in the family court system. He recalled a series of domestic violence-related shootings.

“One of them was from a big-time guy in Highland Park, who went and killed his wife, just gunned her down," he said. "And that was because the judge was unfair and the woman was unfair. And she demanded something, and he was out. And it was frustration.

“So now we go through the court system,” Sessions continued. “And unfortunately lives have to be lost and there has to be tragedy — there now is a better system.”

It’s not clear what case Sessions was referring to in the video, which was edited. Talking Points Memo first reported the video. (Sessions talks about the shooting around the 1:55 mark in the video.)
His chief of staff, Caroline Boothe, said Wednesday the congressman misspoke. She told The Hill Sessions was "discussing a terrible situation where an individual felt he had been railroaded by a court," but "by no means" does the congressman condone any act of violence. 

"In fact, Pete met with judges and court officials to encourage them to address the frailties in the system and to do more to prevent this kind of tragic family violence from occurring," Boothe continued. 

Colin Allred, a Democrat endorsed by former President Obama who is running against Sessions in the midterm election, accused the congressman of excusing domestic violence and “justifying the tragic murder of a woman.”

"Pete Sessions' justifying the tragic murder of a woman in North Texas is disgraceful and inexcusable, and shows just how out of touch he is with our community," Allred said in a statement. "No sensible person would excuse domestic violence and the murder of a woman; these are not the values of North Texans."

Sessions was first elected to Congress in 1996. Since the early 2000s, he’s served District 32, which includes northern Dallas and its suburbs.

Sessions' generally conservative district backed Hillary Clinton for president in 2016. Democrats hope to win the seat in November.

Christopher Connelly is a reporter covering issues related to financial instability and poverty for KERA’s One Crisis Away series. In 2015, he joined KERA to report on Fort Worth and Tarrant County. From Fort Worth, he also focused on politics and criminal justice stories.