State v. Norman
North Carolina Supreme Court
378 S.E.2d 8 (1989)
For most of her 25-year marriage, Norman (defendant) was badly abused by her husband, including being punched and kicked, having objects thrown at her, being burned with cigarettes and hot coffee, and being forced to eat pet food from a bowl on the floor. Norman’s husband also forced her into prostitution at a local truck stop, humiliated her in public, and constantly threatened to kill her. After being beaten very badly one day, Norman called the police who refused to arrest her husband unless Norman filed a complaint, which she was afraid to do. An hour later she attempted suicide and when the paramedics arrived, Norman’s husband insisted that they let her die. After seeking guidance from a mental health center and then a social services office, Norman’s husband dragged her out of the interview, took her home and beat her and burned her with cigarettes. Shortly thereafter, Norman obtained a pistol and shot and killed her husband while he was asleep. Norman was charged with first-degree murder. After a jury trial, Norman was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to six years imprisonment. Norman appealed, and the court of appeals reversed and granted a new trial on the ground that Norman exhibited battered wife syndrome and therefore the trial court should have submitted to the jury a possible verdict of acquittal by reason of perfect self-defense. The North Carolina Supreme Court granted review of the case.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Mitchell, J.)
Dissent (Martin, J.)
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