Jacqueline J. Dixon had been separated and divorced from her husband since 1985, but life, she said, was a "living hell."
One day, she figured, one of them would end up killing the other.
But neither of them thought their son would be the one to pull the trigger -- which is what allegedly happened Friday night as Miss Dixon and her ex-husband, Ernest B. Womble, 40, engaged in a shouting match outside her West Baltimore home.
"He has harassed and threatened me ever since we were married," Miss Dixon said yesterday. "I went through a living hell. He verbally abused me whenever he felt like it. After we were divorced I still couldn't go anywhere or have friends without him following and harrassing me."
Just before 9 p.m. Friday, she said, her former husband came to her house in the 1500 block of North Woodyear Street, where she lived with her 15-year-old son, Jarmal M. Womble, a 10th-grade student at Mount St. Joseph High School.
Mr. Womble started arguing with her.
"It didn't get no further than tussling, but my son was fearful. I guess all of it just got in front of my child, and he didn't know which way to go," Miss Dixon said.
According to the police reconstruction of the incident, the shouting continued. Her son went to a second-floor room, grabbed a .22-caliber pistol and returned to the sidewalk, where he yelled to his father, "Don't hurt my mother," police said.
Miss Dixon said her ex-husband "lunged" at her son, who fired. Mr. Womble was shot in the forehead and was pronounced dead at the scene.
"He's not a bad boy," Miss Dixon said.
Detective Mark L. Tomlin, of the city's homicide unit, said the boy was arrested in front of the house and taken to the Western District lockup, where he was charged as an adult with first-degree murder and use of a handgun in the commission of a felony.
He was being held without bail pending a review hearing tomorrow.
The murder charge was lodged after police determined that no physical abuse had taken place, Detective Tomlin said.
Miss Dixon said she and her ex-husband had sent Jarmal to parochial school since pre-kindergarten.
"He's a very good student. He finished the ninth grade with a 4.0 average," she said.