Sentenced To 19 Years To Life For Killing Her Abuser — Is This Justice?

by Kristen Mae
48 Hours/Youtube

TW: domestic violence

Some of the most compelling evidence that Nicole “Nikki” Addimando had indeed been severely and repeatedly abused by her partner Chris Glover was never seen by the jury that convicted her of murdering him. Medical reports from 2014 showing Nikki had been burned in multiple areas of her body by a spoon heated over a gas flame — reports that had Chris’s name on them. Records from a midwife the summer before Chris died that reported horrific injuries to Nikki’s body and genitals, including “rope-like burns,” vaginal and anal bleeding, and a prolapsed vulva. Nikki told the midwife Chris had raped her with his gun.

Nikki Addimando has never denied shooting and killing Chris Glover. But from the beginning she has stuck to her story of having been a severely battered woman. She has been adamant that Chris was hurting her and threatening her and that she saw no other way out.

The Night Of The Shooting

Dashcam footage from just after 2:00 a.m. on September 28, 2017 show Nikki Addimando emerging from her car as a police officer approaches her. She’s wearing only socks on her feet and seems to be in distress, crying and shaking and hugging her arms around herself. Her two young children are in the backseat of her car. She tells the officer Chris had pulled the gun on her, that there’d been a struggle, that when the gun fell, she grabbed it. He threatened her, and she shot him. In the video Nikki can be heard saying, “Oh my God, he’s dead. It was self-defense. … Oh my God, it’s over.”

Nikki told the officer about a visit from CPS earlier that day. She and Chris had sex after, she told the officer, and though it wasn’t consensual, it wasn’t like the usual “really violent” sex Chris subjected her to. She said she “didn’t fight him.”

The officer took a moment to call a colleague, a conversation which was also captured by the dashcam. “She said [the shooting] was immediately during the struggle,” the officer tells his colleague. “The more and more she talks, I don’t really think it was during the struggle. I think it was after and maybe emotional.”

The officer told her, “As of right now, you’re not in any trouble.” Nikki told her children she would be right back.

She wouldn’t see them again for nine months.

The CPS Visit

On September 27, 2017, the morning before Nikki Addimando shot Chris Glover, CPS had come to their home for a visit. An anonymous caller had apparently called to report that “on a weekly basis, the mother has had visible bruises to her face and chest.” The CPS notes indicate that when they questioned Nikki at her home, she denied any abuse. When they spoke to Chris, he noted that he had no criminal history, substance abuse issues, mental health disorders, or aggressive behavior.

However, when the CPS workers interviewed the kids, Nikki and Chris’s son said that his parents argued about adult things and that his father had “grabbed” his mother. Chris said these were “normal fights,” and Nikki agreed that “all parents argue.” When the caseworker asked if there were any weapons in the house, Nikki said no — a lie. The caseworkers indicated they would see further information from friends and family. After the visit, Nikki texted her sister, “Mention no injuries. I’m a good fucking mom. He’s a good dad.”

She was afraid CPS would take her kids.

The Friends And Healthcare Workers Who Knew

So, afraid of losing custody of her kids, Nikki Addimando had texted her sister to ask her not to speak of “injuries,” with no further context. That means her injuries were obvious enough and frequent enough that Nikki’s sister would know what she was referencing without further context. There were people who knew Chris was abusing Nikki.

Years before, Nikki had confided in her son’s music teacher Elizabeth Clifton, a former social worker, after she pressed Nikki about the bruises and burns she kept seeing on the parts Nikki couldn’t cover up with clothes. Nikki was reluctant to admit to the abuse, but over time she revealed to Clifton that she was being physically and sexually tortured on a regular basis. Nikki’s close friends recalled her constant injuries and in retrospect said they should have known. They said they had been “dumb and blind” to the abuse Nikki was suffering in her relationship with Chris.

When Clifton had tried to convince Nikki to report her abuse to authorities, Nikki insisted no one would believe her. “She always said to me, ‘He’s a good dad, a good coach,’” Clifton told a journalist from Type Investigations. “‘And nobody will believe me.’”

Nikki Addimando Was Right: Nobody Believed Her

Or at least, the people who had the most control of Nikki’s future didn’t believe her. The fact that jurors were allowed to see pictures of Nikki’s abuse but not the medical reports from professionals who labeled her injuries as abuse and named Chris in those records is telling. Edward McLoughlin, the judge presiding over Nikki’s trial, repeatedly leaned on the “Why didn’t she just leave?” line to discredit Nikki’s claims of abuse.

In 2020, McLoughlin released a 47-page ruling that basically sided with the prosecution. He said Nikki could have left at any time, including the night of Chris’s death, writing that Nikki was “only steps from her front door.” He also said that it was impossible to know for sure “the identity of her abuser.” Elizabeth Clifton wrote Judge McLoughlin a letter describing the long history of Nikki’s abuse and the reasons Clifton believed it could only have been Chris who had made the marks she saw.

Chris’s friends and family continue to defend him, saying he could never hurt anyone, that he was not a violent person.

I bristle when people say this about a person who has been accused of abuse, especially when there is as much evidence as there has been in Nikki Addimando’s case. Anyone who has been abused knows how meticulous abusers can be in the crafting of their outward persona, and how quickly they can turn when they believe no one is looking. Research backs this up. Abusers often present an entirely different persona to the outside world.

Chief Assistant District Attorney Chana Krauss made multiple statements that Nikki was manipulating and crafting a story, trying to get people to turn on Chris. If that were true, why was she so reluctant to tell people? This is not a woman who was shouting her abuse from the rooftop. She told one acquaintance — Elizabeth Clifton — only after being repeatedly pressed. She told medical professionals only when she absolutely had to seek treatment, and when they suggested she report, she resisted because she was afraid. She didn’t even tell her best friends. It was only in retrospect that Nikki’s best friends realized the marks on her body were telling a bigger story than that Nikki was a very clumsy person, or that Nikki bruised easily.

According to a special on 48 Hours that covered Nikki’s story, the person who made the report to CPS was a mom from the gym where Chris worked — she’d seen Chris lose his temper with some of the gymnasts. This conflicts with what Chris’s friends and family say.

The prosecution suggested that at times, Nikki may have been causing her own injuries. Then how did she get bite marks on her back? Did she somehow manage to turn her own vagina inside out? And if she was somehow hurting herself on purpose because of some mental health disorder, why did all those injuries stop after Chris died?

If the criminal justice system is meant to protect the public from dangerous individuals, Nikki Addimando should not be in jail. She has no history whatsoever of criminal or violent behavior. She killed someone who had been torturing her for years. And now her children are being raised without their mother — who, by all accounts, even those who support Chris, was a devoted and loving mother.

In her final statement to the court, Nikki Addimando said, “I wish more than anything this ended another way. If it had, I wouldn’t be in this courtroom, but I wouldn’t be alive either, and I wanted to live. … This is why women don’t leave. So often we end up dead or where I’m standing. Alive but still not free.”

On February 11, 2020, Nikki Addimando was sentenced to 19 years to life in prison. Her two children live with her relatives, and spend weekends with the Grovers.