Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

Clemency for BATTERED WOMEN!

28. September 2005 • Matt Hollerbach
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Got this message last week. Among other things, this group is a beneficiary of the V-Day college campaign, which culminates in the Vagina Monologues in February of every year

Our names are Alycia Welch and Megan Shuchman and we are members of the Michigan Battered Women’s Clemency Project. We are writing to invite you to a very important event taking place on FRIDAY, OCTOBER 7, 2005 at NOON on the steps of the State of Michigan Capitol Building in Lansing.

The Clemency Project supports incarcerated women who acted in self-defense against an abusive spouse, but were not allowed a fair trial at the time of their conviction. We draft petitions to the governor requesting Clemency for these women. Currently, there are 20 petitions on the desk of Governor Granholm that have been awaiting her decision, some for nearly two years.

These women cannot wait any longer! Please join us in urging Governor Granholm to grant these women justice! Groups such as yours are all being invited- this rally MUST make a difference!

Thank you for your time. We hope to see you on

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 7, 2005, NOON, at the Michigan Capitol Building.

If you have any questions, please contact us at this email address or by cell phone (734) 645-6256.

Sincerely,

Alycia Welch and Megan Shuchman



  1. Click here for flyer (Clemency Project)
       —Matthew Hollerbach    Sep. 28 '05 - 11:46PM    #
  2. It is time to put a stop to this nonsense called Battered Women Syndrome.

    One only has to read the details about the Louanne Szenay case to find out what crap this Clemency project is.

    The same defense (battered women syndrome) was used in Nancy Seaman’s case. Nancy Seaman was convicted by an Oakland county Jury of First degree murder – she killed her husband in Farmington Hills with a hatchet she bought from Home Depot. Thanks to Home Depot video tape which showed that Nancy stole another hatchet and returned it with her original receipt ! After the Jury conviction, a left wing liberal judge reduced the conviction to Second degree murder while sentencing !

    It is time for all freedom loving citizens to wake up and start a movement against the nonsense called Clemency project.

    PLEASE SUPPORT FAIR AND EQUAL APPLICATION OF LAW TO EVERY INDIVIDUAL AND OPPOSE THE CLEMENCY PROJECT.

    Srini
       —Srini    Sep. 29 '05 - 08:33AM    #
  3. Prison time for murder, whether 2nd or 1st degree, is always serious business. At least, as I understand it.

    Your characterization of the group is far from fair. Battered women syndrome does exist.

    The law does not exist to be equal. It cannot be in an unequal society. The law must be equitable. The circumstances that these women’s crimes occurred demand that our system adjust and respond—not simply lump all crimes into neat and tidy little cubbyholes. That approach is NOT, as you might claim it to be, “equal.”

    And it should be obvious that this group is not seeking to help the womn from an Upper West Side loft who kills her husband for his insurance money. The group deals with underprivileged, underrepresented, and often mentally handicapped women who deserve every bit of attention, time, and consideration when it comes to evaluating their crimes.

    To suggest otherwise is not to advocate equality. What you are actually doing is suggesting the courts stop trying to account for the reality of society, and instead, just treat everyone EQUAL.

    Unfortunately, that would not be justice.
       —Matthew Hollerbach    Sep. 29 '05 - 10:17AM    #
  4. Srini,
    There is far more to the Seaman case than that. The hatchet was proven to simply be a tool that was nearby when her abusive husband attacked her yet again for thousandth time, and for once she had the adrenaline to defend herself.
    Get your facts straight and free your mind,
    WTF
       —WTF    Sep. 29 '05 - 01:23PM    #
  5. There is far more to the Seaman case than that. The hatchet was proven to simply be a tool that was nearby when her abusive husband attacked her yet again for thousandth time, and for once she had the adrenaline to defend herself.
    Get your facts straight and free your mind

    Uh, this wasn’t some hatchet she just happened to have around, she went and bought the thing right before she killed him with it – either the day of or the day before the murder. But that’s just a coincidence, I’m sure.
       —mw    Sep. 29 '05 - 02:01PM    #
  6. Don’t even bother to respond to Srini’s post. I’ve seen that guy around: he’s a local nutcase who shows up at lots of public meetings, as far as I can tell, for the sole purpose of spouting contrarian, inflammatory rhetoric about anything the wind happens to have blown up his skirt that particular day. Looks like he’s doing that here too. My impression is that he’s just an instigator. A hateful instigator, given, but nothing more.

    Of course, now I just hope he doesn’t hunt me down and kill me for posting that.
       —Mike    Sep. 29 '05 - 03:05PM    #
  7. True coincidences are why the law is skeptical of “circumstantial evidence” and calls it such.

    Riiiiight, a 100-pound schoolteacher decides she’s going to kill to her 250-pound violent, physically abusive husband with a garden hatchet one day, brings it home, expertly hides it in the garage (with the other garden tools, which are all apparently just weapons for suburbanites), waits for him to attack to her, masterfully lures him into the garage (apparently they keep cars there too, you know, for fleeing) where said hatchet is. She’s a real pro, all right.

    Get real. The point of Matt’s post was that women who chose to break the law by killing their abusers perhaps deserve some clemency (that’s fancy Latin talk for MERCY, y’all) in our justice system. Not a free ticket out of jail, but more understanding from our society to the cause of spouses becoming battered.

    Against clemency for battered women? Fine. Help cut off the supply! Get preventative: contribute to shelters and hotlines that give abused spouse an alternative escape from their situation. Help spread awareness of the seriousness of spousal abuse, and report it when you see it.

    I can respect your skeptism of the case if you can put your money where your mouth is and fight the root cause.
       —WTF    Sep. 29 '05 - 03:29PM    #
  8. Some of the most “needing an ass whooping” women that I have ever had to deal with were 100 pound school teachers. Sadly, I was just a 50 pound child….
       —Parking Structure Dude!    Sep. 30 '05 - 08:52AM    #
  9. Riiiiight, a 100-pound schoolteacher decides she’s going to kill to her 250-pound violent, physically abusive husband with a garden hatchet one day, brings it home, expertly hides it in the garage (with the other garden tools, which are all apparently just weapons for suburbanites), waits for him to attack to her, masterfully lures him into the garage (apparently they keep cars there too, you know, for fleeing) where said hatchet is. She’s a real pro, all right.

    But the idea that she killed him while being attacked is HER story (and not necessarily a particularly plausible one). If we’re talking about plausibility, the idea that a 100 pound woman could kill a 250 pound man in a sneak attack and then try to get away with it by claiming self-defense and ‘battered woman syndrome’ is absolutely plausible—a kid who weighed 50 pounds could kill a 350 pound man that way. But the idea that she could, in the middle of a fight, retrieve a hatchet and then kill him is far less believable. He couldn’t, in the garage, find anything else to use as a shield or a weapon? He couldn’t escape? Riiiiiight.

    Her claims of abuse were weakly supported (no police calls, no emergency room visits—just some friends saying that yes, maybe they did remember her having some bruises). She was on record as having threatened a woman who she thought was having an affair with her husband (and the woman’s children). She didn’t report the killing in self defense but hid the body for days (went back to Home Depot to buy a tarp and air freshener) and apparently tried to cook up some goofy alibi by stealing another duplicate hatchet from Home Depot after the murder.

    One of her sons bought her story, the other didn’t. The judge bought her story, but the jury definitely didn’t. You may, but I don’t—I think clemency would be a travesty.

    Maybe it makes me a nut like ‘Srini’ but I’m with Cathy Young on this issue:

    http://www.reason.com/0207/co.cy.license.shtml
       —mw    Sep. 30 '05 - 09:13AM    #
  10. Thanks ‘mw’ for a nice analysis of the Nancy Seaman’s case.

    The clemency project members should take a look at the LuAnne Szenay case in detail (clemency project is supporting her). Hopefully they will read the Baycity newspaper article that gave complete details a few years ago. In that case also Jury found that the woman had hired thugs to kill her husband. She sent money to the person who killed her husband !

    All of those who bought Nancy Seaman’s story, please send me your address. I have a bridge to sell and it is cheap too !

    Srini
       —Srini    Sep. 30 '05 - 09:51AM    #
  11. mw, you seem quite vested in this one, are you connected or just trolling? (seriously.) I have much knowledge of the case (both sides) too, obviously, which is why I’m defending her specifically, and the concepts of CLEMENCY and PREVENTION in general.

    “Her claims of abuse were weakly supported (no police calls, no emergency room visits—just some friends saying that yes, maybe they did remember her having some bruises”

    you really are insensitive. that’s why they’re “battered spouses!” the victims, usually women, are trapped in a marriage where they don’t have the financial independence to leave, their family members may not be sympathetic for social or religious reasons, and the police are often unsympathetic or restrained (“we can’t arrest your husband until he actually kills you, ma’am”) hence, no prior record. as to her admittedly bizarre behavior, again, she’s not exactly a pro! a pro would have either cleaned up the mess and had plane to Mexico waiting, or run to the police claiming self-defense immediately. her actions smack of someone very unsure of what to do, yet still very afraid for her life. and it doesn’t have to self-defense in the moment, the line is often blurred with aggravated assault.

    that’s why again, if you’re so against clemency for those in the past, what will you do to help prevent it in the future? what are your thoughts on prevention, rather than victim- (or perp-, if that’s how feel) -bashing?
       —WTF    Sep. 30 '05 - 11:28AM    #
  12. MW is here everyday. It’s you, WTF, who seems to be connected, or just trolling.
       —Parking Structure Dude!    Sep. 30 '05 - 11:52AM    #
  13. I’m here everyday too, but my M.O. is to wait until I have something constructive to say about topic I know something about, which is not trolling (or baiting, or bashing or whatever you want to call it.) And yes, I just said I’m connected (and at least, better informed), that’s why I asked.

    All anonymous posters are trolls (myself included), PSD, but you’re probably the most respected of us, because you’re usually constructive, funny or both. Sadly, not on this thread. :(

    mw is here everyday, but the ratio of constructive-to-trolling seems low at times, however well spoken.

    so in the interest of constructive discussion, it seems that there is skepticism at the concept of clemency, but also prevention.
    I can respect that someone might not feel certain cases deserve it, and that’s reasonable. but why do these cases even happen? why can’t these women just call the cops like us regular guys can? could it be that our society, despite increased awareness of domestic violence, still does not have the necessary safeguards against it, or escape routes for those who are abused?
       —WTF    Sep. 30 '05 - 12:47PM    #
  14. you really are insensitive. that’s why they’re “battered spouses!” the victims, usually women, are trapped in a marriage where they don’t have the financial independence to leave, their family members may not be sympathetic for social or religious reasons

    Look at it this way. Do you think there are any women who kill their husbands out of hate, anger, jealousy, or a desire to get out of a marriage without splitting the proceeds or for a fat insurance payoff? If you say no, this never ever happens, then I think it’s hopeless and you can stop reading.

    Still with me? OK, now in those admittedly rare cases where women kill their husbands for any of the above reasons, do you think they ever consider how to get away with it? Again, if you say no, you can stop reading.

    OK, do you think any of those women who kill intentionally and want to get away with it have ever heard of women getting off or receiving light sentences because of charges of domestic abuse? And don’t you think it ever occurs to these killers to try such a defense themselves?

    The thing is, I just fundamentally don’t believe this particular woman’s claims of abuse. It appears to me that she cooked them up as a defense. And I really don’t believe she just happened to run out on Mother’s Day to buy a new hatchet (for yard work!) and, coincidentally, her husband just happened to pick that day to attack her so severely that she had no choice but to kill him.

    she’s not exactly a pro! a pro would have either cleaned up the mess and had plane to Mexico waiting, or run to the police claiming self-defense immediately

    The fact that she tried to cover her tracks stupidly and ineptly is not a defense – there are stupid, inept crimes committed all the time (OJ wasn’t too clever, either).

    if you’re so against clemency for those in the past, what will you do to help prevent it in the future? what are your thoughts on prevention, rather than victim- (or perp-, if that’s how feel) -bashing?

    Well, first, giving wives what amounts to a license to kill husbands based on unsubstantiated claims of abuse does not look like a promising approach to me.

    But I will admit, it is a real problem. As it stands, false accusations of abuse or threats or child sex abuse are a problem in contentious divorce and custody disputes. After all, what’s the downside in a wronged wife making such a charge against ‘a no-good cheating bastard she hates’? There really is none – even though it cannot be substantiated, there’s no way to prove she was lying and it’ll always cast doubt on the character of her ex and will probably win her a better settlement. So what’s not to love?

    But, of course, we all too frequently read of tragic cases of real abuse escalating to real murder. It is a dilemma. Part of the solution has been for police to treat instances of domestic violence more seriously than they did, say, 15 or 20 years ago. And battered women’s shelters are useful.

    But I would say that restraining orders are close to worthless. I’d suggest that women have to be taught to document abuse. They need to call 911. Perhaps domestic abuse volunteers could help such women with devices for recording phone conversations, hidden cameras, etc. Real threats need to be taken very seriously by the legal system (by seriously, I mean incarceration), but unsubstantiated (he said/she said) threats cannot simply be taken at face value (they’re too open to abuse).
       —mw    Sep. 30 '05 - 01:23PM    #
  15. here, here, mw. glad to see your honest thoughts on this. much appreciated.

    I’m inclined to think that the system still favors husbands over wives, and that the insurance-scam killers or divorcees are far outnumbered by true victims of abuse, but I can see you disagree with that, which is fair enough.

    I wholeheartedly agree on the documenting idea, but again, here’s the real dilemma: how does one teach someone whose movements are restricted by their abusive husband? the resources, mental and physical, needed to do so are often available to the true victim, because of the abusive situation.

    your solution is quite rational, but the core problem is fundamentally irrational. and that’s a dilemma with so many issues discussed here.

    “I just fundamentally don’t believe this particular woman’s claims of abuse”

    well, I do, obviously, and again I guess we disagree. all I can say is my knowledge of the actual court proceedings and a conversation with an attorney (not in the case) changed my mind. the prosecution’s case wasn’t exactly airtight either, and it’s unclear why they did certain things in the course of the investigation, which doesn’t justify violence, but makes the case harder to prove, a severe sentence harder to merit. it’s the basic uncertainty as to what really happened, leading up to and during, which is why I’m for clemency, and rehabilitation, not vengeance. if I went solely on the newspapers (“tough-on-crime,” fear-mongering etc. Oakland County wasn’t too happy to have this happen in their community, it’s soooo Wayne County to them), I’d be suspicious too.

    thanks for bringing this one around, and I apologize if I’ve been too provocative and not constructive.
       —WTF    Sep. 30 '05 - 01:54PM    #
  16. I’m inclined to think that the system still favors husbands over wives, and that the insurance-scam killers or divorcees are far outnumbered by true victims of abuse, but I can see you disagree with that, which is fair enough.

    I’m inclined to think that there are tragic victims of both sexes. Wives killing their husbands (or hiring out the job) are rare. Rarer, certainly, than husbands killing their wives (though the difference is perhaps not as great as many people think). But false accusations of abuse, I suspect are more common than either. Obviously being falsely accused of domestic violence (or, worse, child sex abuse) is nowhere near as bad as being murdered, but it’s pretty damn bad. It can destroy careers and lives.

    Human beings being what they are, I don’t pretend that these problems can be solved completely, but I think it’s possible to do better, and I don’t think that involves leaning in one direction or the other.

    I, too, am please to see the conversation evolved into something constructive and reasonable. Go figure ;)
       —mw    Sep. 30 '05 - 04:01PM    #
  17. I have known nothing about the murder case that is being discussed here until I stumbled across this forum, in an engine search for self defense. But I feel compelled to respond. A major controversy seems to be the use and intent of the hatchet. If this woman was in an abusive situation, then everyone may be right, meaning the murder could have been premeditated and self defense simultaneously. She may have purchased the weapon with murder in mind and killed the man in his sleep and still have been the prime example of battered women’s syndrome, and well within her rights. I say this because I was in an abusive marriage where there was only one way out. Like one of you stated, I had no income, no resources. He would not allow me to drive or own a car, we had no phone and lived miles away from my family. He controlled me; he made me have sex in order to go to the grocery store or a doctor’s appointment. On our first family christmas, he took us to get a christmas tree only after I submitted to having anal sex with him. I was very isolated. There were no hospital visits, police reports, or the like to confirm the years of abuse that I withstood, and that is not uncommom for most women. The only time a police officer came out was towards the end when I was trying to leave the property against his will and my mother called on my behalf. The officer would not let me leave the property with my young children because they were also my husband’s children, and the law (in my state) does not permit one parent to take the children away. The officer sided with my husband, laughing and giving him legal advice. I was trapped. I knew if my husband caught me trying to leave the property he would kill me. He didn’t have a job, we were very poor. He never let me out of his sight after realizing that I wanted out of the relationship. He raped me often. We lived in the country with his family our only neighbors, who supported him and looked down upon me. I lived a living hell until last Christmas Eve when I escaped. (my children and I are hiding from him, he wants to kill me) But during the two months of imprisonment, I wished he would have an accident so that I could live again. I never wanted it to be that way. But, I remember feeling the desperation and needing him to die. And if I would have attempted to kill him, the only way I would have had a successful chance, would be to carefully think about it, plan it and attempt it while he was sleeping or otherwise unaware, not while he was attacking me. And, no, there would have been no other motive concerning money or insurance or an affair, only my freedom and my children’s well-being.
       —ashley    Oct. 9 '05 - 11:42PM    #
  18. Ashley,
    I am very sorry to hear of your ordeal. And I am glad of your escape. The difference between you and Nancy is that you thought about your kids, and you escaped. Nancy’s husband was not possessive of her, she was of him and his time he spent with the Dumbletons. She made more money than her husband, she had a car and a vehicle. She had a condo set up. With all the time he spent in the basement, at the batting cage and with his other family that he sought refuge with, she had plenty of time to leave. In reviewing the case it seems they both were abusive, like War of the Roses. I don’t doubt that were was abuse on both sides. But because there were no defensive wounds to either party, and because Bob left her first, I believe Nancy chose death and that she premeditatively blind sided him. she chose against her career and her children and chose something else. I too like you had thoughts of wanting my abusive husband dead, but like you they were only feelings not actions. I like you chose a different path and got out. The whole thing is a tragedy for all and everybody lost, nobody gained a thing.


       —lmo    Jan. 15 '07 - 01:23AM    #