21-Year-Old Survives Attack By Crazed Ex, Faces Decades In Prison For Refusing To Die Quietly (IMAGE)

Cherelle Baldwin is a 21-year-old mother from Bridgeport, Connecticut. She is facing decades in prison for the murder of her abusive former boyfriend Jeffrey Brown – because while the U.S. legal system recognizes the right of men to stand their ground, it offers no such protection to women fighting for their lives against domestic abusers.

Brown and Baldwin were in love once. They had a baby together. But Brown became controlling, and violent. Like so many other women – Baldwin was trapped. But soon, Brown moved in with another woman – and it should have been the end of Baldwin’s suffering. Instead, he used access to his son as a way to continue the abuse. This is the recorded campaign of terror she suffered:

  • He took her phone, credit cards and money.
  • He stalked her constantly.
  • He beat her up in her home, causing Baldwin to call the cops twice.
  • In early May 2013, he was convicted for breach of the peace, a reduced charge. Baldwin wanted to help him get anger management counseling. But the most she could do was get a court order barring more threats, harassment or assaults against her while he was visiting their son.
  • Just days later, Brown abruptly showed up at Baldwin’s home and took their 19-month-old from her, only returning him after she chased after Brown by driving on the wrong side of the road.

In the final days before the fight that would end with Brown crushed between Baldwin’s Pontiac and her cinderblock garage, the terror intensified.

On May 16, 2013 he texted her no fewer than 36 times. They were the typical pattern – first emotional apologies, then threats, then demands for money and sex. She tried to ignore it, replying only to tell him it was over and to move on.

But he was back texting again at 7.30 am the very next day. He continued to bombard her with messages through until midnight, when he texted to say he was stalking her. He wrote, as he tailed her in his car:

“I’m behind u lol [laugh out loud],”

On May 18, he started again at 6:36am, accusing her of lying. After 12 texts, she wrote:

“Leave me alone!!!!”

He replied:

“N u will see how crazy shit will get today.”

Two hours later. Brown was dead, and Baldwin was facing decades in prison for his murder.

As Steven Rosenfeld writes at Alternet:

When the police, firefighters and ambulances arrived two hours later, they found Brown crushed between Baldwin’s car and a cement wall at the end of the driveway. His hand clenched a two-inch-wide leather belt she told police he had used to whip her before she fled to the car. Below his body was her purse with her phone and credit cards. Baldwin was barefoot and in her night shirt on the ground beside the car, dazed and crying for her baby. She had a badly broken leg. The baby was in the house. Photos taken at a hospital afterward by her mother showed marks around her neck and streaks of raw skin across her back.

Jeffrey Brown was 8 inches taller than Cherelle Baldwin, and police confirm they had made repeated call-outs to the home in response to reports of domestic violence. The presence of the belt, phone, credit cards and Brown’s wounds corroborate her version of events.

The police affidavit (which incorrectly identifies Brown as Baldwin’s boyfriend) reads:

“She stated her boyfriend attempted to kill her.

He climbed through her window, requested his identification, she told him where it was, he began fighting and choking her. Then he pulled a knife and choked her with his belt. Then she ran outside got in the car to attempt to flee. He managed to get in the car and proceeded to choke her again. Then she got out and fell as she did and the car ran over her leg and that he also got out to chase her[,] and the rest happen[ed] too fast and she wasn’t sure how he ended up in front of the car.”

However, Bridgeport police disagreed with Baldwin’s version of events and pushed for criminal prosecution. They deemed that Baldwin had raced the car along the driveway and crushed Brown with intent – murder charges were filed and bail set at $1 million.

After a six-week trial last month, a jury voted 11-1 against convicting her – the judge recorded a mistrial. On March 12, pretrial begins with a new judge, and Baldwin’s life hangs in the balance once more. The media reporting from local press has been predictably appalling – like this example below from NBC Connecticut which again misidentifies Brown as Baldwin’s boyfriend, and neglects to mention he was an abusive ex-partner.

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Until we get real about the monstrous epidemic of violence against women in our society, we are going to keep seeing outrageous scenarios like this playing out across the nation.

The number of American troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq between 2001 and 2012 was 6,488. The number of American women who were murdered by current or ex male partners during that time was 11,766.

That’s nearly double the amount of casualties lost during war.

Three women are killed by a current or former male partner every day in the U.S.

18,000 women have been killed by men in domestic violence disputes since 2003.

This is a crisis of epidemic proportions.

Yet there is no legal protection in place for women who take the lives of men who are in the process of commissioning violent abuse against them. Where is the “Stand Your Ground” law for victims of domestic violence? While George Zimmerman walks free, Cherelle Baldwin and countless women like her are behind bars. This is a national scandal.

Featured Image by Aururoa Tigress via Creative Commons