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Abused wife acquitted after stabbing husband to death

Children support mother who stabbed their 77-year-old father to death

In one of the first cases of its kind in Spain, a jury in Pamplona has acquitted a 64-year-old woman who killed her husband after suffering years of physical and mental abuse.

Shouts of joy echoed through the courtroom last Thursday after the nine jury members acquitted María Pilar M. R. of homicide, ruling that she had no intention of killing José Antonio G. S., her 77-year-old husband. Prosecutors were asking for an 11-year jail sentence.

"This has been a nightmare," María Pilar told reporters, adding that she could not believe the jury's verdict.

On November 2, 2009, José Antonio began arguing with his wife as he had done on countless occasions during their 39 years of marriage. After he slapped her, María Pilar lost her balance. She grabbed a kitchen knife and the two began to struggle. She stabbed her husband in the chest. Two of her children said that María Pilar had suffered abuse "either physical, mental or verbal, all of her life" at the hands of their father.

Two of her children said she had suffered abuse "either physical, mental or verbal, all of her life"

The wife's legal team had argued that María Pilar suffered from "abused-wife syndrome" - a defense rarely used in Spanish courts. During her testimony, the tearful defendant explained that her intent was only to injure her husband, "just so he would know that I wasn't going to tolerate his beatings."

In handing down their acquittal, the jury stated that María Pilar had contacted the emergency services soon after the stabbing.