Self Defense: Mexican prosecutors drop case against woman who killed her rapist
The prosecution’s reversal comes after outrage from Mexican communities and feminist groups
May 22, 2023 8:52am
Updated: May 22, 2023 8:52am
Mexican prosecutors said Saturday they were dismissing charges against a woman who was previously prosecuted, convicted and sentenced to six years in prison for killing a man while he reportedly raped her.
The new prosecutorial decision comes after the victim turned defendant was championed by her fellow Mexicans who came out in droves to protest her conviction.
Outrage spread after a Mexico State court issued a dichotomous decree last year, arguing that 23-year-old Roxana Ruiz was guilty of homicide with “excessive use of legitimate defense” and ordered to pay $16,000 in reparations to her attacker’s family, despite the fact she killed the man while he was raping her.
The Prosecutor’s Office now says it believes her story that she acted in self-defense, and also said it considered external factors such as the fact that Ruiz is an Indigenous single mother, making her part of a vulnerable classification.
These factors ultimately made the prosecutors reconsider and decide she was “exempt from guilt.”
Ruiz’s prosecution sparked a wave of protest, not only from her community but feminist groups which made sure their voice was heard in demonstrations. After the ruling, they protested local authorities while carrying carried signs in Mexico City that read “Defending my life isn’t a crime.”
Ruiz, who takes care of her 4-year-old child, reportedly strangled the man with a t-shirt after the two had spent time together that day.
The man walked her home and asked if he could sleep over in her house because it was late and he lived far away.
Although he slept on a separate bed, the man suddenly attacked and raped her, according to her lawyer, Angel Carrera said. Ruiz defended herself, and the man threatened to kill her before Ruiz did the same to protect her and her child.
She said she took the chance of fighting back after being sexually assaulted because she “didn’t want to die by his hands.”
Prosecutors were initially suspicious because shortly after Ruiz killed the man in self-defense, she was in shock and put the man’s body in a bag.
When she took the bag to the street, she encountered police officers who were shocked by the discovery. She told authorities she was raped, but the officers arrested her under the circumstances.
The officers questioned if she was sexually assaulted, but a forensic exam was never done by another lawyer said.
Ruiz’s attorneys say the reversal is a victory for Ruiz, justice and women everywhere.
“It means that they’re recognizing her innocence,” Carrera told The Associated Press. “It’s a recognition that she simply defended herself.”
Self-defense is a complicated process in the United States, and is known as an “affirmative defense.” When asserting any “affirmative defense” the defendant admits to the act (in this case, a killing) but they are denying they committed the act with criminal intent or negligence.
While the “burden of proof” remains with the prosecution, the “burden of production” for evidence shifts to the defense, and the defendant must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that despite committing the act, they did so without criminal intent or negligence.