Ex-cop tried to strangle me when I was trying to escape him, victim testifies

Martha Melissa Smith testified Friday that her former boyfriend – a former Glendale police officer – kept threatening her and tried to strangle her when she and her daughter were visiting him inside the…

Ex-cop tried to strangle me when I was trying to escape him, victim testifies

Martha Melissa Smith testified Friday that her former boyfriend – a former Glendale police officer – kept threatening her and tried to strangle her when she and her daughter were visiting him inside the Phoenix home he shared with Potter.

Smith said she was staying with Wright in his home in the 3700 block of Colima Drive on the night of Feb. 25, 2017, after shopping with her daughter. She said they had arrived home from the east to find her sister, Claudia Eames, downstairs.

Smith said Wright and Potter argued about something and her daughter briefly wandered out of the home. When she came back, she said she saw Potter sitting on the bedroom stairs in a full-face mask. Smith said Potter opened her bedroom door, grabbed her daughter and dragged her out.

At that point, Smith ran to a closet and put on a life jacket before going back into the home to grab her shoe off the floor so her daughter could go back inside.

“I was completely upended, exhausted,” Smith said. “I don’t know what to say other than I was frozen. I had just been on the floor.”

Smith said Potter began choking her. When she yelled to her daughter to get away, Potter grabbed her by the shirt and began hitting her. Potter then grabbed the family dog, “saw there was blood everywhere and he didn’t want that and bit me on the ear,” Smith said.

At that point, Smith took out a belt from a drawer and tried to stop Potter from strangling her by wrapping it around Potter’s neck.

“There was a lot of blood,” Smith said. “I was really scared of what was going to happen next and then he was beating on me.”

Smith eventually escaped from the house and called 911, by which time Potter had left the home.

When asked how long she was restrained in the closet, Smith said it was much longer than the few minutes he had said.

“For at least an hour,” Smith said.

Floyd Wright, Daunte’s brother and Potter’s current boyfriend, was present at the hearing. He asked Potter if he had assaulted Smith. Potter repeatedly answered “No.”

When asked what the defendant’s intent was when he put the belt around Smith’s neck, Potter said it was to “stop the bleeding.” He said he did not remember what happened next.

“Something in my brain failed me,” Potter said.

Potter said he has not slept since Smith’s testimony Friday.

Melissa’s daughter, Evin Smith, is a special needs child who Potter said he had been caring for for the past 10 years. Evin was attending a foster home party when his parents decided he needed to be returned to his biological mother. When Potter arrived at the Foster parent’s home to pick up Evin, he was attacked by his birth mother.

Authorities have said there was an apparent murder-suicide when the bodies of Evin’s adoptive mother, Holli Jones, 31, and brother, Elijah Jones, 4, were found inside the home the evening of Feb. 26, 2017. Jones was shot in the head, and Elijah was shot multiple times.

Three girls – Martha Smith, Ellis Malloy, 12, and Joselyn Malloy, 6 – were taken to the hospital for their injuries. They have since been returned to their biological mothers.

Potter faces up to seven years in prison if convicted.

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