On 26 April 2014 an argument between couple Zariah Samson and Cory Protos, who had been together for just seven weeks, spiralled out of control and ended in a violent and brutal murder. The perpetrator, however, was 22-year-old Zariah who believed her boyfriend had been spreading rumours about her. At the home of a friend in Christchurch, New Zealand after arguing over what Samson called ‘trust issues’, Zariah Samson turned to prolonged abuse and violence against 30-year-old Cory Protos.
Under the influence of methamphetamine Samson stripped him naked to make sure he was not wearing any recording devices, tied his hands behind his back, and placed a blanket over his head before she beat and kicked him repeatedly over a period of four hours.
Concerned at where the violence would lead, her friend told her to leave the home. Samson walked a beaten Cory Protos to her car and drove to her own home, where she untied him and let him have a shower. The arguing soon resumed and ended with Zariah Samson wrapping a computer cord around Cory’s neck three times and strangling him to death. At just 22-years-old, Samson had committed the ultimate crime and betrayal against an individual she was supposed to care for.
After the murder, Zariah Samson went to a relative’s house and admitted what she had done. The following morning this relative contacted police and Samson was arrested with police finding Cory Protos body lying sprawled under Samson’s bed where she had left him.
“Cory was a person who had dreams and ambitions that were of love and life. Our hearts are broken and as parents we are trying to come to terms with this nightmare day by day.”
Such a violent and prolonged attack carried out by a young female does not fit the stereotype of gentle non-violent women or how most people perceive domestic violence to be with the male partner more commonly being the one to turn violent. However, statistics tell us that a much higher percentage of men are attacked, abused, and assaulted by their female partners than people think. The US National Crime Victimization Survey recorded that between 2002 and 2011, 65% of men reported being physically attacked by their female partner during their relationship.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that an average of 20 people are physically abused by intimate partners every minute in the United States and intimate partner violence accounts for 15% of all violent crime. The ‘It’s Not OK’ campaign in New Zealand, where this crime occurred, reports that between 2009 and 2012, 24% of deaths related to intimate partner violence were perpetrated by women.
Zariah Samson was charged with the murder of Cory Protos in April 2014 and has remained in jail for the last three years while the wheels of justice turned to bring her to trial. In a pretrial hearing, she pled not guilty to murder with her defence lawyer telling the court she did not intend to kill Cory Protos on that night and her actions in using the computer cord occurred after she had been threatened with a gun. When her case did come to trial in July 2017, the murder charge was reduced to manslaughter and Zariah Samson entered a guilty plea at Christchurch High Court.
The court was told that Samson’s background was deeply troubled. Her mother committed suicide when Samson was 14-years-old and she was brought up in a violent home with substance abuse all around her. She was admitted for mental health treatment at 19-years-old, three years before the murder, being treated for drug and alcohol addiction, depression and post-traumatic stress. In the weeks before Cory Protos was killed, Samson’s three children were taken away from her by their father who took them to live with him. Her mental health declined quickly and she began abusing drugs heavily.
“We’ve come out of court today with a life sentence of nightmares, pain and grief while [Samson] gets the murder charge reduced to manslaughter because of an unprecedented loophole in the system.”
On 14 July 2017, Zariah Samson, now 25-years-old was sentenced to six years in prison with three years of the sentence to be a non-parole period. As she has already served this time in jail while awaiting trial, she is now eligible for parole to the disbelief of the Protos family.
Jimmy and Gail Protos were on holiday in Thailand at the time their son was killed and they found out about his death from posts and comments made on Facebook. “Our beautiful son is gone forever without even a chance to defend himself,” they said. “We are disgusted with the justice system because our son never got any in that court room today,” Jimmy Protos said after the sentencing.
Despite their grief and anger, Jimmy and Gail Protos also said they hoped that Zariah Samson got the help that she needs in order to turn her life around.