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State v. Norman

Court of Appeals of North Carolina
366 S.E.2d 586 (1988)


Facts

On June 12, 1985, Norman (defendant) shot and killed her husband while he was asleep in bed. At trial, Norman revealed that her husband physically and verbally abused her for the past twenty years. Her husband was an alcoholic who frequently beat her, threw objects at her, and sometimes did not let her eat for days. He was out of work and forced Norman to prostitute herself on a daily basis, beating her if she resisted or if she did not bring home enough money. On many occasions, he threatened to kill or seriously injure Norman. Norman testified that when she had previously attempted to run away, her husband always found her and beat her. He threatened that if she ever had him sent to jail, he would kill her upon release. Norman also testified that she believed her husband would kill her as soon as the opportunity arose. At trial, expert witnesses testified that Norman suffered from battered spouse syndrome and that she truly believed she had no choice but to kill her husband to protect her and her family. Norman sought to argue that she killed in self-defense, but the trial court declined to issue an instruction on self-defense to the jury because Norman’s husband was not threatening her life at the time Norman killed him.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Parker, J.)

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