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Last December, when Nedra E. Thomas-Mattox arrived at Haven House, a shelter for domestic violence victims, “her face was a mess after she was beaten and abused by her husband,” said a friend currently living in an out-of-state domestic shelter.

The friend, who spoke on the condition that she not be identified, said Thomas-Mattox’s face was covered in bandages when police took her to Haven House.

The battered body of Thomas- Mattox, 38, was found March 11 in a bedroom of the couple’s home on Andover Avenue in the city’s Bailey-Ken- sington neighborhood. Police said the woman was beaten to death by her husband of 10 years, Antoine D. Mattox, 32.

Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III and James F. Bargnesi, chief of the DA’s homicide bureau and the chief prosecutor in the case, declined to comment on the unidentified friend’s statements, as did a Haven House official.

Meanwhile, attorney E. Carey Cantwell, who represents the murder suspect, said he learned Friday during a felony hearing in the case that a grand jury had already voted a murder indictment against his client, who is behind bars. Court sources said Mattox’s arraignment on the indictment will not take place until at least sometime this week.

Mattox was arrested at a Rochester bus terminal, hours after he beat his wife to death, authorities said. Police believe Mattox was returning to Virginia, where the couple used to live and where the suspect still has relatives.

An autopsy revealed that Thomas-Mattox died of blunt-force trauma.

Buffalo Police arrest records state that Mattox killed his wife “by beating her with his fists, kicking her and beating her with an iron.”

The friend of the wife, who contacted The Buffalo News, said that soon after they became friends in Haven House last December, “I begged her not to remain in Buffalo after 10 years of abuse and seeing her face.”

She added that she told Thomas-Mattox, “There was no way [her husband] was going to let her live.”

According to the friend, Thomas-Mattox told her she had three children – two who still lived with Thomas-Mattox in the Andover Avenue home.

“I wish to God I said more to Nedra,” the friend said. “I begged her not to stay around Buffalo.”

email: mgryta@buffnews.com