walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

Ah, another amazing fact pattern

Mary Ellen Nelson 1959, summarized here:

"If cultural stereotypes lead juries to mistrust a woman who has knowledge of self-defense tactics and readiness to use them if threatened -- for instance in the 1959 case of Mary Ellen Nelson, who was convicted of voluntary manslaughter for fatally shooting her battering husband (who had already beat her, blinded her in one eye, slashed her arm with a knife, and came toward her with the fireplace poker with which he had blinded her) with a gun from the dresser drawer which she knew to be loaded and knew how to use -- then juries should be reminded that women, like men, have a right to bear arms"

It REALLY FUCKING CHANGES THINGS if you find out that Mary Ellen Nelson had already shot her husband once the year before.


If you really want me to be sympathetic, try sharing the whole story.

"Where defendant in a murder case testified how well she got along with her husband, the deceased, and had no reason or desire to kill him, it was Held that it was not error for the district attorney in cross-examination to elicit the fact that defendant had shot her husband a year before the killing. [365]"

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