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Monica Delk

On Jan. 6, 2014, the day she killed a man, Monica Delk woke up with a stomachache.

For weeks, she had been tired and sleepless as her boyfriend, Charles Brown IV, became increasingly hostile.

In December, she said 27-year-old Brown came home from work demanding to know why she had stolen his pressure washer.

What are you talking about? Delk asked.

Brown replied, she said, by hitting her in the face with a cereal box.

Weeks later, when she refused to let Brown sell drugs in her apartment, she said he blamed her for losing his job at the chicken plant.

That controlling and borderline violent behavior culminated in her stabbing him to death in January 2014, which she testified about in detail Thursday in Criminal Court.

Delk, 37, was charged with second-degree murder in January 2014 after police said she stabbed Brown, cleaned her apartment, and waited eight hours to call police. She pleaded guilty to manslaughter in late October and has since been out on bond.

After her cross-examination finished around 6 p.m. Thursday, Judge Barry Steelman called the court into recess until today.

Delk's attorney, John McDougal, argued that Delk should receive diversion — where a judgment is withheld and potentially expunged from somebody's criminal record. He called a number of witnesses Thursday.

Prosecutor David Schmidt countered that Delk should not receive diversion because of the severity of the crime. Schmidt tried to punch holes in her recollection of that night and questioned why Delk never called police if she needed help getting away.

"So, how did he get stabbed?" McDougal asked his client.

"By me," Delk replied.

After the pressure washer incident in December, Brown started acting out, Delk said.

He would refuse to let Delk and her two teenage sons leave the house from New Year's until the stabbing, she testified. One time, she said he purposely hid his keys then berated her for losing them.

Delk said she thought about crawling out the window to escape, but she reasoned she couldn't abandon her children.

She said she never called police because Brown had taken her phone, and she never asked the neighbors for help — not after they didn't intervene during the heated December argument.

On the morning of Jan. 6, 2014, Brown seemed more upset and controlling than usual, Delk testified.

He ordered the children to come out and eat one at a time, she said. Later, he shook her from a nap, screaming and throwing garbage on the floor.

"He left a bruise on one of my son's arms," Delk testified. "Then he put a knife on the top of one of my son's heads."

This wasn't the same Brown she'd met that fall, the Brown who talked about his family for hours and played gospel music, she said.

Fearful for her family's safety, she said she stabbed him.

She told Schmidt her eyes were closed.

She couldn't remember punching or hitting back. She acted solely out of fear. It took "a while" to realize Brown was even dead, she said.

Then she started cleaning, for reasons she couldn't explain, she said.

She changed Brown's shirt, covered him with a blanket. She told Judge Steelman her sons didn't say anything and stayed inside the apartment at College Hill Courts.

"It's not a day that don't go by that I don't pray for his family," Delk said to Brown's family members, who gathered in the gallery. "And I wish I could just go back and rewind and go our separate ways."

Early in the daylong hearing, Doris Hart said her grandson Brown was a happy child until his mother died at the age of 7.

The oldest of three children, he never graduated from Brainerd High School.

She said he dabbled with drugs, orbited in and out of Juvenile Court for stealing and gang-related activity.

And he died trying to get his GED.

"I think about how she just cleaned him up when she could have just called the police," Hart said Thursday. "And I think about it a lot. If he was doing something to her, just call the police."

Contact staff writer Zack Peterson at zpeterson @timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6347 with story ideas or tips. Follow @zackpeterson918.

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