SHELBY COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — A young mother of two shot and killed her ex-husband at a boat launch on Lake Tuscaloosa in Northport on May 15, 2012. The circumstances surrounding the shooting would go on to garner national headlines.
Tracey Grissom admitted to killing Hunter Grissom that day. As she drove past the lake, she saw her ex’s work truck parked in the lot. In a split second decision that she said she regrets to this day, Tracey stopped to take photos for evidence in a lingering divorce issue, to prove that Hunter was indeed working and pulling in a paycheck. Tracey claimed Hunter walked toward her in a threatening manner and she panicked, shooting him six times. He died on the ground next to his truck.
Grissom claimed she had PTSD and battered woman syndrome after her ex beat and raped her several years prior. Hunter’s attorney disputed those allegations.
Tracey’s claim did not stand up in court, as the jury found her guilty of murder in 2014. A judge sentenced her to 25 years in prison.
Grissom is now serving time in a private prison in Columbiana. She’s been in prison for eight years.
Tracey Grissom describes life at Tutwiler prison
A decade after Hunter Grissom’s death, Tracey agreed to talk with CBS 42’s Andrea Lindenberg.
Lindenberg: “All right, Tracey, we haven’t seen you in 10 years. Who are you now? Who is Tracey Grissom now?”
Grissom: “Well, I would say that I’m the best version of Tracey Grissom that there’s ever been. I’m freer in my mind, in my headspace, today locked up than I’ve ever been in my life.”
Grissom has moved around in the prison system since spending years at Tutwiler, even almost driving a work release van in Birmingham. She’s now at a private prison in Shelby County that houses inmates for the Alabama Department of Corrections.
Lindenberg: “The debate was between ‘Is she a cold blooded killer? Did she want his insurance money or was she a battered woman?'”
Grissom: “I will regret stopping that day for my entire life. I will regret the pain and the hurt that I have caused to family, friends and so many numerous people that it has affected. But still sitting here today, on that day, I still feel that I would have lost my life.”
However, the autopsy showed Hunter was shot twice in the back and twice in the arm. Two witnesses said he was trying to get away from Tracey that day.
As for Tracey’s rape allegation against Hunter, his attorney, Shelly Standridge, said there was no proof.
“But what she said is not true. I never found anything independently that verifed any of her claims,” Standridge said.
Sitting in prison today, Tracey maintains she was the victim.
Lindenberg: “Did you want him dead?”
Grissom: “Honestly? No. I wanted him to go to prison. I wanted him to fear the way I feared. I really had to deal with myself on that. And I put myself in a bad situation and I have to pay the consequences for that.”
Tracey Grissom talks about what she wants to do when she leaves prison
As a result of her actions that day, Tracey has never met her son’s three children face-to-face. Also, she has no contact with her daughter, her only child with Hunter, who is now a teenager.
Tracey will not be eligible for parole until 2029.
Grissom: “My daughter and my son are the true victims of all of this in the family. Because not only did they lose a father, they lost the mother as well. And I pray every day that his family will forgive me and allow me to be able to form a bond with my daughter and be able to have contact with her. Whatever they would be willing to do for real. I know that I took their son, but in response they’re taking my daughter.”
Hunter’s mother, Melanie Garner, spoke with Lindenberg several times, but chose not to go on camera. Instead, she provided the following statement:
“We, the family, friends and supporters of Hunter Grissom, are as heartbroken today as we were ten years ago due to his tragic, senseless death. It is by God’s grace and guidance that we carry on with the many responsibilities given to us on that fateful day. He is always with us, loved with a love beyond all feeling, missed with a grief beyond all tears.
“The victim’s families are not taken into consideration when the Department of Corrections move inmates from one facility to another. It is our belief that any convicted murderer or other violent offender should remain in a maximum-security facility for the entire duration of their sentence.”Melanie Garner