SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) – It was a heartbreaking day in court Wednesday for the family of Heather Gumina Waters after her husband, Anthony Gumina, pleaded guilty to her 2019 murder.
Holly Smith, a close friend of Gumina Waters’ mother, Joanna Russell, was in the courtroom to give support to the family.
“There was just a lot of anxiety on Joanna’s part, kind of holding her breath,” Smith said.
Smith sat close behind Russell in the El Dorado County Superior courtroom as the man who murdered her daughter read his statement during a last-minute guilty plea on Wednesday.
“He made it, basically, all about himself and, again, trying to shame Heather or make Heather look like the bad person,” Smith said.
Smith, who has known Gumina Waters since she was a baby, said she would often hear about her and Gumina’s abusive relationship that went on for years.
“Heather was completely in love with him, but he was just very abusive the whole time and very jealous,” Smith explained. “Heather’s a pretty tough girl, but she just — just like a lot of victims — just didn’t get out.”
Gumina was charged with felony domestic violence in January 2019. Right before her murder in July, Gumina Waters was treated for a broken collarbone after a violent attack.
“He showed he has no remorse. He showed that he’s blaming the victim, so he truly is an abuser,” said the family’s attorney, Cheryl Sommers.
After seeing a rise in the frequency and intensity of abuse cases, Sommers said there needs to be more education in recognizing signs of abuse and more follow-through by local law enforcement on domestic and family violence restraining orders.
“It’s just a piece of paper and a piece of paper is not going to stop him or her from coming and killing you or harming you,” Sommers explained.
While there were no restraining orders filed in Gumina Waters’ case, Sommers said she believes Gumina Waters stayed to protect her children.
On top of pleading guilty to first-degree murder, Gumina also pleaded guilty to two counts of domestic violence from prior assaults towards Gumina Waters.
Gumina is facing 30 years to life and will be back in court for sentencing in September.