Survivors’ Stories


Charges: Attempted murder and weapons possession in the 4th degree

Arrest date: April 2003

Conviction: Assault 1 (jury trial)

Sentence: 7 years

Georgiana was born in Peru and came to the United States at the age of 16. At the time of her arrest, she was a third-year student at Hunter College majoring in journalism. After being repeatedly and severely physically abused at the hands of her batterer, Georgiana defended herself against an attack with a hammer. She was convicted at a jury trial of Assault 1 and weapons possession and was sentenced to seven years (she had received an earlier offer from the District Attorney of three years, which she declined). Georgiana’s batterer did not testify; he was not in the country and told the D.A. that he did not want to cooperate. Georgiana’s defense attorney asked him to testify that Georgiana was defending herself. At first, the batterer agreed, but later changed his mind because he believed testifying that he abused Georgiana would compromise his immigration status. The expert testifying in this case was not permitted to testify about the effects of battering on the defendant’s state of mind. Instead, he testified generally about domestic violence and the effects of battering, but not as they applied to the defendant.


Charges: Murder 2

Arrest date: June 2004

Conviction: Manslaughter 1 (plea agreement)

Sentence: 18 years

Charlotte was born and raised in Brooklyn and had two children with her abuser. She was physically and sexually abused as a child. For over 10 years she stayed in a common law marriage with her batterer. Charlotte experienced emotional, verbal, and physical abuse in this relationship; the abuse was witnessed by many people in her neighborhood. Charlotte does not have clear memories of the content or sequence of the altercation with her husband which ended with her shooting her husband with his own gun. Her attorney repeatedly failed to file a notice of “psychological defense,” even after the attorney was warned and chastised by the judge. The attorney did not engage an expert to evaluate Charlotte. He did retain an investigator, who never interviewed the defendant, any of the family members, or any witnesses. For these reasons, Charlotte asked the judge for a new court-appointed attorney, but the judge denied her request. Ultimately, Charlotte decided to take a plea of 18 years because she did not want to risk going to trial with an incompetent attorney and risk a sentence of 25 years to life. Since she has been in prison, Charlotte has lost over 20 pounds (she was not overweight) and also has lost some hair due to anxiety, depression, and concern about being separated from her children and her ailing mother.


Charges: Assault 1

Conviction: Assault 2 (plea agreement)

Sentence: 3 years

Adele is the mother of one child. She has no previous criminal history and had been working with the same employer for over 15 years. After a long history of abuse at the hands of her husband, Adele defended herself during the incident for which she was arrested after her husband hit her repeatedly and knocked her to the ground. During a previous incident witnessed by the abuser’s daughter, Adele’s husband choked her until she passed out and had to be roused by her stepdaughter. Adele took a plea of three years because she was suffering from severe depression and suicidal thoughts and did not feel strong enough to go through a criminal trial.


Charges: Manslaughter 2

Arrest date: May 2001

Conviction: Manslaughter 2 (jury trial)

Sentence: 1.5 – 4 years

Jasmine is the mother of four children and had no prior criminal history. As a child, she was sexually abused and raped by her stepfather. She was also severely physically, emotionally, and sexually abused by her batterer. Jasmine was convicted of manslaughter for defending herself with a knife as her batterer was punching, choking, and kicking her.

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