*Legal documents obtained by TMZ show that Michael Jace was accused of being violent and abusive toward his previous wife in front of their baby.

The actor, charged this morning in the shooting death of his wife April, went through a divorce in 1997 from Jennifer Bitterman. In the docs, a friend of Bitterman’s claims she personally witnessed Jace choking and slamming Jennifer against a wall as his 6-month-old son screamed in his crib next to them.

The friend says he was raging and out of control and “seeing the extent of his anger was one of the most terrifying things I have ever seen.”

The friend says there were multiple physical assaults on the ex-wife.