Sexy photos `drove nurse to murder'

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The Independent Online
PHOTOGRAPHS of a woman in her underwear became the focus of the so-called Valentine's Day Murder trial of a British nurse, Helen Cummings, yesterday in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The six-member jury was told that the photographs, apparently of her husband's lover, were what drove the 33-year-old Mrs Cummings, who is white, "over the edge" to shoot several bullets from a powerful handgun into her black husband, Tyler Cummings, 33. A figure reflected in a bathroom mirror, taking the pictures, was Mr Cummings, the prosecution said.

Mrs Cummings, a maternity nurse from Preston, Lancashire, is accused of second degree murder (manslaughter) after the death of her husband of nearly three years on Valentine's Day this year. It is suggested she found the photographs in his car. She faces up to 30 years in jail if convicted.

Her husband's family were among those who said she should not be charged with first degree murder - and face the death penalty - since it would leave the couple's children orphaned.

Mrs Cummings has a one-year-old son, Terry, and is expecting their second child next month. Terry is currently being looked after by his maternal grandmother.

Mrs Cummings, who had lived in the Fort Lauderdale area, north of Miami, for several years and worked in the local Holy Cross hospital, does not deny killing her husband, who was a male nurse at the same hospital.

Her defence lawyers, due to begin their case today, say they will tell the jury that she was a battered wife and had also suffered from post- natal depression. She had previously found a video of her husband having sex with another woman in their marital home, the court has been told. When she found the photographs on Valentine's Day, she cracked and went "over the edge", the jury heard.

She ran from the house after the murder and dialled the 911 emergency number, it has been told.

Listening to a tape of that call, jurors heard her sob: "Oh, my God, I can't believe I did it. I can't even say it. It's too terrible. Please, God, forgive me. I should have left him a long time ago."

It has not been established whether the gun had already been loaded by her husband, or whether Mrs Cummings did so.