The Wendy Howard Defense Team announces that Wendy has taken a plea deal in order to “end this horrible nightmare” of being pursued by the Kern County DA. Wendy was criminalized for defending her life from her abusive ex-boyfriend. At the trial last October, Wendy received a not guilty verdict on almost all charges except voluntary manslaughter, for which there was a hung jury, and, prosecutors refused to drop the case. The team’s statement to the press is below:

We are disappointed that the motion to dismiss was denied and that the Kern County DA refused to drop the last remaining charge of voluntary manslaughter, a charge which has questionable legal legitimacy at best given the unprecedented outcome of the trial. Wendy is a 53-year-old grandmother and mother who defended her life against a man who had a long history and documented record of severe domestic violence and child sexual abuse. He created a world of terror for his own family as well as other girls in the community. The DA failed to keep Tehachapi residents safe from his violence, including Wendy and her family. Instead of accounting for their failure to keep the public safe, they chose to go after a woman who was trying to stay alive in an attack that they could have prevented.

The DA has coerced Wendy into taking a guilty plea for voluntary manslaughter, a charge for which we believe she was lawfully acquitted. The DA appears to be making decisions based only on protecting a conviction rate rather than protecting constituents. This is a strategy without integrity. This office has threatened a victim of domestic violence who acted in self-defense, and four other victims who this man terrorized, with a second re-traumatizing trial.

We called on the DA to do what their constituents demanded and what justice demands: drop the charges, and let these victims put their lives back together in peace. But the DA failed to do so. Wendy’s family and Kern County residents should never have had to pay for the DA’s failure to protect public safety. Yet again, Wendy Howard has been forced to defend her life by accepting a no contest plea deal, doing so not because she is guilty but because Wendy and her family wish to finally move on from this horrible nightmare. It is important to note, however, that Wendy entered an Alford Plea, which maintains her innocence.

We thank all the community members and advocates who have been tremendously supportive of Wendy throughout this injustice. Thank you for your prayers, your generous donations to Wendy’s legal defense fund, and your constant messages of support and solidarity. This has meant everything. To Wendy and family, we honor you as beacons of strength, survival, and resilience. You are kind, thoughtful, and care deeply for your family. You are not your plea deal, and your plea deal does not define you. To Kern County DA Cynthia Zimmer: Your office has a terrifying pattern of punishing victims of rape, domestic violence, and child sexual abuse who defend their lives. This will forever define your legacy.

Read more about Wendy Howard and the campaign to free her, and S&P’s research report on the criminalization of self-defense.

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