So, you think that all of those “stand your ground” laws will help protect women who are victims of domestic abuse. If you believe that, you are very tragically wrong. Two cases, one in South Carolina, and one in Florida prove that stand your ground does not include domestic abuse victims.
In South Carolina, there is a case of a women who stabbed her partner when he tried to keep her from leaving for good with her belongings. The incident took place right after he beat her and dragged her down the street by her hair. The prosecutor says the “stand your ground law” does not absolve her from her crime of murder. Problem is that according to how the law is written, she is correct.
The case began one night in November 2012, Whitlee Jones fatally stabbed her partner, Eric Lee. She has testified that she did not mean to kill Lee when she issued the fatal wound, but that she only meant to fend him off while he blocked her from exiting the house with her belongings, attempting to leave him for good.
In a very lengthy report in the Charleston Post and Courier, neighbors saw Lee rip Jones’ weave from her head, saw it fall to the pavement across which he yanked her while she screamed. One witness called the police. Officers arrived while Jones hid outside the house; they spoke only with Lee, who said that their altercation never turned physical. The police left, and Jones returned to grab her things and go, forever. She later told police that her partner tried to attack her while she was leaving the house for the second time that night. So, allegedly fearing for her life, she stabbed him.
A Judge’s ruling granted Jones immunity in the murder case in accordance with the state’s Protection of Persons and Property Act — otherwise known as its “stand your ground” law. But, the South Carolina prosecutors are appealing the ruling saying that the 2006 SYG law does not apply to housemates in episodes of domestic violence, as that was not the legislation’s original purpose.
“[The Legislature’s] intent … was to provide law-abiding citizens greater protections from external threats in the form of intruders and attackers,” Assistant Solicitor Culver Kidd, the case’s lead prosecutor, told The Post and Courier. “We believe that applying the statute so that its reach into our homes and personal relationships is inconsistent with [its] wording and intent.”
Taking the law’s wording literally, they are correct. The law states that the “presumption of fear” necessary for one to take aggressive force does not apply when the person “against whom the deadly force is used has the right to be in or is a lawful resident of the dwelling.” According to this wording, you are not allowed to use stand your ground against your partner even if that partner is beating you or trying to kill you.
You may ask way would such wording would be included in a law like this? Well, wording like this happens when you don’t consider women to be people with rights. If you think that women don’t deserve protection from being abused, you make sure they cannot hide behind stand your ground laws.
The second case is in Florida. Angela Corey of Florida, the attorney who prosecuted George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin is currently attempting to put Marissa Alexander, a mother of three who fired a “warning shot” at her abusive husband, in prison for 60 years. Alexander has been refused immunity under the state’s SYG law twice — the first time because the court found that she did not have a “reasonable” fear for her life, and the second because the judge refused to retroactively apply changes to the law that made provisions for warning shots. She did not injure anyone and, at the time of the incident, had a protective order against her partner, who previously admitted under oath to beating her.
So the fact that her partner had acknowledged that he beat her, and that he had violated an order to stay away from her, does not constitute her having a “reasonable” fear for her life. Of course, anyone with only half of a brain would say differently. But, that is what happens when a judge decides what is reasonable fear and what isn’t based on archaic beliefs of women and their status in society. Apparently he believes that getting abused by your partner is not “reasonable” fear.
Whether or not the rulings in these cases are legally correct or not, the fact of the matter is that even when states attempt to let people kill others because they fear for their lives, it does not include women who live in abusive homes. That is what is wrong with the whole domestic abuse situation. If we are truly going to get a grip on this problem, things like these SYG laws need to change to protect the victims rather than treat them as the problem.
Before any changes can be made, legislators need to start thinking of women as people and not property. It is a shame on them that they don’t already believe this simple fact of life.