Updated:TACOMA, Wash. —
A man who was charged with the assault of his girlfriend has been charged with second-degree murder after she died from her injuries.
Pierce County prosecutors said 41-year-old William Selley beat 29-year-old Kathryn Southward so severely that a detective said he couldn’t believe she was alive.
On Sept. 26, Selley called his mother after Southward vomited a dark substance and was incoherent, prosecutors said. His mother came to the home, saw that Southward was seriously injured, and told Selley to call 911.
Once at the hospital, doctors determined that Southward had three broken ribs, a collapsed lung, a broken bone in her neck, a possible broken wrist and damage to her internal organs, as well as bruises all over her body in various stages of healing. The victim’s family members told police there was a history of Selley abusing Southward, police said.
According to police, a sheriff’s detective who met with Southward in the intensive care unit noted that he had never seen a victim that severely assaulted and still alive. After initially saying she couldn’t remember what happened, Southward said Selley had beaten her, authorities said.
Police said that Selley claimed that Southward fell backwards and hit her head on the television console when he tried to place her on the couch. She stayed on the couch for three days because of her injuries. Prosecutors said Selley did not take Southward to get medical treatment because they had no medical insurance.
Southward died on Friday. An autopsy determined that the cause of death was injuries from blunt-force trauma to the chest and abdomen, the medical examiner said.
“October is Domestic Violence Awareness month and this murderous assault unfortunately highlights the need to continue our efforts to hold abusers accountable and to prevent domestic violence,” said Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist.