Niece of Port Arthur woman charged with murder says aunt was victim in violent altercation

Published 12:38 am Saturday, January 15, 2022

A local woman whose aunt was arrested this week for murder believes the fatal stabbing was an act of self defense.

Meyshoia CarterSmith said her aunt, Phyllis Gipson, was physically abused by Lawrence Ozane and described that relationship as toxic.

Gipson, 61, and Ozane, 53, were an on-again, off-again couple; and on the night of Ozane’s death, CarterSmith said, the man had been out “drinking and drugging” and attacked her aunt with a golf club.

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“She was trying to get him off of her,” CarterSmith said.

The alleged abuse had gone on for years, the niece said, adding her aunt loved Ozane. Even now, while in jail on a $200,000 bond for the stabbing death, Gipson insists he is still alive.

CarterSmith said prior to the Wednesday (Jan. 12) stabbing, Ozane had busted her aunt’s head, sending her to the hospital. Through the years Ozane is said to have broken Gipson’s phone on different occasions to keep her from calling police.

“It’s a sad situation of him dying, but when you’re doing something so bad, things happen like that. With him drinking, he bled out. It was self defense,” CarterSmith said.

Ozane, she said, had recently been released from prison and was on parole.

“My auntie didn’t leave or run. She didn’t run when the cops came,” she said. “She didn’t try to kill him. She was trying to get him off of her.”

Documents obtained from police say Gipson remained on scene and that Ozane was still sitting in a recliner when first responders arrived in the 1900 block of 3rd Ave. just after midnight.

Gipson walked down the front steps of the apartment the two shared and reportedly told police she lived at the residence with a man who was upstairs. The man, later identified as Ozane, was found sitting upright in a recliner unresponsive and with a large wound to his lower right leg, according to the affidavit for arrest warrant.

In the report it was noted there was a large amount of blood on the floor near Ozane’s leg. He was pronounced dead on scene by EMS.

According to the document, the woman told police there had been a physical altercation between the two and she had pulled out a pocket knife and struck the man in the leg. One of the officers said in the report that he saw several spots of fresh blood on her pants and the T-shirt she was wearing.

Gipson was arrested and charged with murder. As of Friday, she remained in the Jefferson County Jail.