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State v. Edwards
Missouri Court of Appeals
60 S.W.3d 602 (Mo. Ct. App. 2001)
Larna Edwards (defendant) had suffered extreme violence and abuse at the hands of her husband, Bill Edwards, for decades. Bill frequently hit Larna and their children with his fists, belts, and other objects, and threatened to kill them. Bill had kicked their oldest son down a flight of stairs, and repeatedly raped their daughter at gunpoint when she was a young teenager. Although Larna had tried on multiple occasions to leave Bill, she had returned because she had no money of her own to live on. One day after an altercation that had begun the night before, Bill hit Larna hard enough to knock her glasses off and break her wristwatch. Shortly thereafter, when they arrived to work at their family store, Bill hit Larna with a lead pipe, striking her on the arm when she raised her arm to protect her face. Larna believed her arm to be broken from the blow, and that Bill was about to kill her. Larna picked up a handgun kept under the store counter and shot Bill four times, killing him. When charged, Larna claimed to have acted in self-defense. The jury acquitted Larna of murder, but rejected the claim of self-defense and convicted her of voluntary manslaughter. Larna appealed, alleging that the jury instructions on self-defense failed to give inadequate instructions on battered-spouse syndrome.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Ellis, J.)
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