PITTSBURGH - It was a bizarre and sensational crime that gripped Southwestern Pennsylvania. A transgender woman convicted of killing her husband after a botched surgical operation inside their Marion Twp. Butler County mobile home.
More than a decade after the crime, Tammy Felbaum is now out of jail and is fighting to clear her name.
Felbaum sat down with Target 11 Investigator Rick Earle to explain her side of the case.
Felbaum told Earle that she is still very upset at many people who were involved in the case, including the media.
“The media painted a very bad picture of me,” said Felbaum.
Earle asked, “Andy you are here to defend your name?”
“Well, my name is not that great, but it's not as bad as all that,” Felbaum responded.
Felbaum has been released from prison and speaking out after more than a decade behind bars.
In 2002, Felbaum was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the death of her husband, James, who died two days after a castration operation in their Marion Twp. mobile home.
“I loved him. I still do,” said Felbaum.
“Did you have anything to do with his death?” asked Earle.
“No, I did not have anything to do with his death. My husband died from complications of a drug overdose, not complications of any surgery. I did not kill my husband. My husband was not laying there bleeding. You know it’s not something you die from. It’s a minor surgery.
Felbaum said her husband began the surgery because he didn’t want testosterone. When he ran into problems, she stepped in. Felbaum said she had performed the surgery once before on her first husband.
Felbaum claimed James was fine after the operation. She told Earle he overdosed on oxycotin.
“I just heard him gasping for air, and I rolled over and saw him and he was blue, and he was gasping for air. and I immediately called 911,” Felbaum said.
Felbaum told Earle that emergency workers who arrived at the house refused to enter until police arrived. An EMS Spokesperson told Target 11 that an unrestrained dog met them at the driveway. The spokesman said as soon as Felbaum restrained the dog in a room, they entered the home to begin treatment.
“You can’t blame them for not coming in, if there’s drug’s going on?” Earle asked.
“A man’s dying in there. That’s there job,” said Felbaum.
James Felbaum died from asphyxiation after choking on his own vomit. But Investigators determined that the castration contributed to his death.
In the end, the judge found her guilty of a lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter, ruling that she didn’t intend to kill her husband.
Still, a decade later, Tammy Felbaum maintains it shouldn’t have come to that.
“You feel you were railroaded by the system?” Earle asked.
“It was worse than that. You can't even say railroaded. It was worse than that. What they did to me was cruel and evil. It was evil beyond words,” Felbaum said.
Tammy Felbaum said she doesn’t have any contact with James Felbaum’s family. At the time of the trial, they were very upset and felt that Tammy Felbaum should have gotten even more prison time.
Felbaum said she’s now just trying to get her life back together.