The Fist and the Knife

Mike Wohnoutka

God, baby. Valentine's Day. My birthday's Monday and they won't even let him come here and talk to me. Shit, he's not fucking with me, he ain't beatin' me up. He's been beating me.

Everything all right in here. He can't beat the shit out of me. I miss work. He's going to get pissed off at all you motherfuckers. Bring my ass home, that's all he's going to say. Bring her long ass on home.

Better stop hitting on me. Tired of that. How am I going to deal with it? Keep on standing, baby. Oh, 'cause I know you love me, but you can't hit me here. I just want to be home in the bed. Pick up my check tomorrow. Got to go to the grocery store and you're changing my lock, as you said.


The whole thing was just too unreal. This bare, white room with no windows and nothing on the wall. Her own hair, still up in rollers, her long, thin arms poking out of the baggy sweatshirt she'd only planned to wear while getting ready to go out. The police officer who kept coming in telling her that her boyfriend was dead, that she was under arrest for his murder.

Over and over she tried to explain what had happened. She and Earl were supposed to go to a bar with friends to celebrate Valentine's Day and her 40th birthday. They'd been drinking Milwaukee's Best and Thunderbird wine, and she and her girlfriend had been looking for red dresses to wear in honor of the holiday. At some point he'd started "trippin'" on her, shoving and hitting and shouting that she wasn't going anywhere, that he was "gonna fuck [her] up." He'd thrown a chair at her and backed her against the kitchen table. Only then had she picked up the knife. His eyes had gone wide and surprised after the stabbing, but he was still talking when the police took her away.

When the officer left, the hidden video camera in the Minneapolis Police Department interrogation room kept rolling. It captured Donna Miller sobbing into her hands, crying so hard she doubled over and her face grazed her thighs. As the night dragged on, with the video still going, she got tired and hugged herself as if she were cold.

But between spells she talked to Earl. She knew he couldn't be dead, laid out on a gurney over at North Memorial Medical Center. He'd come get her, and she would lie for him, and they would go home.


They'll let you get out. They're going to bring you home. Shit, they ain't got no choice. We got our bedroom set up, our living room set up. I ain't got to work this morning. I woke up at 6:15, yup. They goin' to release you right at noon. Make you a better damn house. You going to be here and there and going through all our kind of junk, I mean all the clothing and stuff in the bedroom.

Come on get me, baby. I ain't going to hurt nobody; can't keep beating me. Just come on home. I'll cover it up. I did before. Come on. Come on, baby. It's time for us to go to sleep. Shit. Let's go home, baby.

Over the weeks that followed her arrest, Miller's horror grew deeper as she realized what had happened. She'd waived her right to an attorney and talked to police because, even drunk and disoriented, she was convinced they'd see the case her way: She loved Earl Cosey, and she'd stabbed him only when he left her no choice.

Sgt. Christine Arneson and the other officers investigating the case seemed sympathetic, asking her about injuries Cosey had inflicted on her and trying to get hospital records from prior incidents. The judge who heard early motions in the case didn't appear to consider Miller a threat to society; she released her on bond and helped her get into chemical-dependency treatment. Even the prosecutor--a veteran assistant county attorney who at the time supervised domestic-violence prosecutions in Hennepin County--didn't seem to see her as a cold, calculating killer. She proposed a deal in which Miller would plead guilty to second-degree murder, then serve only a year in the workhouse instead of the state-recommended sentence of 12 years in prison.

But Miller rejected the plea bargain. "She felt very strongly that she had not committed a crime here," says Rick Trachy, the assistant Hennepin County public defender who represented her at the time. "And she would not say she was guilty of murder." That refusal set Miller on the path to a trial, a conviction, an appeal, and, now, the Minnesota Supreme Court. A decision by the justices on whether to review her case is expected in the next few weeks.  

Miller was convicted after the prosecutor, Kathryn Quaintance, argued to the jury that the defendant had plenty of alternatives to stabbing Cosey. She could have left the house that night, or earlier in the afternoon when he shoved her down the stairs. She could have pushed for his prosecution when he sent her to the hospital weeks before. She could have broken up with him when he first started beating her. In short, Quaintance raised the question that has perplexed many of those dealing with domestic-abuse victims: "Why didn't she leave?"

"I think people are astonished that someone would stay in a relationship where they get bruised and their nose gets broken and their eyes blackened," says Renee Bergeron, the attorney handling Miller's appeal. "And they think someone has a moral obligation to leave and save themselves and others." In Miller's case, Bergeron argues, the jury's decision hinged on the mistaken notion that Miller's failure to escape made her responsible for Cosey's death.

If Miller's advocates are right, her case illustrates just how powerful that argument remains even two decades after the courts recognized Battered Woman Syndrome, the official name for the cycle of domestic abuse and victims' inability to break it. What makes her case something of a landmark is that for perhaps the first time in Minnesota legal history, an appeals court has found that "Why didn't she leave?" was the wrong question to ask.


Oh my God. I killed somebody. Oh my God. Oh no. Call my daughter. No. I don't hurt people. Oh please. Please. I ain't never did nothin' to nobody. I ain't never hurt Earl. Oh my God. I didn't mean to kill him. I didn't mean to kill him. I didn't mean to kill him. Oh God, how he beat me. Oh my God.

Bullshit. Earl ain't dead. Shit. Bullshit. He ain't dead. Probably waiting on something to eat. They doin' to psych me out. This is an interrogation room. Somebody better be able [Inaudible] that motherfucking house. Earl will snap. [Inaudible.] Toilet paper. Noodles and cornbread. I know he's going to be hungry. All they got to do is let him come here, let me talk to him for one second. A lot like the last time. Nobody beat me.

Just come and get me. She don't know what she's talking about. She don't know what she's talking about. Just come on get me, man. Shit. Come on get me, baby. Come on get me. I never press no charges against you and you ain't going to press them against me. Come on.


Donna Miller sits ramrod-straight in the visiting room at the Shakopee Correctional Facility, the panicked sobs on the police video replaced by focused attention. She stands nearly six feet tall and her slender frame has gained a few pounds in prison, but her voice doesn't match her size. Her tone is low and gentle, her demeanor so calm it could almost be described as docile. Her features, round and girlish, don't betray her 42 years--except perhaps for the scars on her forehead, neck, and lips, each a reminder of an unhappy relationship.

Miller recounts the details of her background carefully, seeking a precise answer to each question put to her. She grew up on the west side of Chicago, the oldest of seven kids. Her father left when she was five, and her mother made ends meet by doing housework for other people. In high school Miller took typing and shorthand classes and thought she might go on to be a court reporter; when she got pregnant at age 15, she dropped out. Later she enrolled in modeling school and picked up jobs as a runway model for Marshall Field's and other department stores.

At 16 she moved in with her daughter's father, who had bought a small house. The three lived there for five years, until Miller broke off the relationship. It wasn't that her boyfriend was abusive, she says; they just never talked or did things together. For the next decade she supported herself and her daughter with whatever odd jobs she could find--filling orders for car parts, making envelopes.

In 1991, at 34, Miller married a man she will identify only as Lawrence. About two months after the wedding, he began beating her. At first she stayed because she was determined to make the marriage work. Later she stayed because he stole her clothes and her paychecks. "He had a habit of telling me, 'I will kill you,'" Miller says. Several times she fled to battered women's shelters, but toward the end of the time she was allowed to stay there--around 20 days--she always let him talk her into coming back.  

Four years into their marriage, Lawrence found a girlfriend and moved out. Miller was working as a laborer on a demolition site and struck up a friendship with one of the other workers, Earl Cosey. She liked the way she could sit and talk to him without having to watch for signs that he was about to explode.

One day, Miller says, some guys on the job were joking around in a way that upset Cosey, and he slapped her. She broke up with him, making it clear that she'd just left an abusive relationship. Later they reconciled. He hit her several more times during the 18 months they spent together in Chicago, but on the whole things seemed to be going better than they had with Lawrence, so she let it go.

Cosey's temper took a turn for the worse when the couple moved to Minneapolis in mid-'96. "He just completely changed up here," Miller says. "Overnight he started getting very possessive. He would fight with me every weekend." One of those fights resulted in a black eye, and although Miller wore dark glasses to her job at a local bank the next day, people could see right through them. The boss sent her home. "That job didn't work out," she says, "'cause my eye stayed black for a long time." After that she relied on temp agencies to find work.

The fights escalated. Cosey's sister kicked them out of her apartment, and they moved in with another sister. Miller says Cosey's relatives would try to stop his rages, but they were protective of him, too, and asked her not to turn him in.

At one point, according to testimony at Miller's trial, Cosey kicked her in the head hard enough that she had to go to the emergency room. When the doctors asked about a wound on her stomach, she told them he had bitten her a few weeks before. They asked whether she needed help. Miller says she was too scared to answer; Cosey was wandering the hospital's corridors talking about what he was going to do to her, and how he'd leave if she gave him some money. One of the nurses called the police.

The officers gave Miller a card with the phone numbers for several local battered women's shelters. She says she called, but the only facility that had a space open was a two-hour bus ride from her job. Nonetheless, she told police she wanted charges pressed against Cosey.

Soon, however, she began having second thoughts. She says Cosey's sisters urged her not to cooperate with the county attorney, and that they blocked prosecutors' attempts to get in touch with her. When the court date arrived, she went to work instead of showing up to testify. The case was dropped. Later, that decision would be cited as evidence that she didn't try to stop the violence.

In December the couple went to a party thrown by Cosey's niece. Miller says Cosey got angry because he believed that she knew people at the gathering. That was the time he laid her lips open to the gum; it took 22 stitches to sew the flaps back together. Cosey's sisters would later say that the cuts came from his punches. But Miller claims he attacked her with the box cutter he used for tearing up carpeting at his job and which he usually wore in a sheath on his belt. (Doctors supported her on this point.)

Before the ambulance arrived to take Miller to North Memorial Hospital, she grabbed the box cutter and threw it at Cosey. The tool pegged him in the chest; hospital personnel later testified that Cosey had a half-inch "laceration or puncture," and that he was observed for a while and then released. But the wound left a scar--another detail that was later to be used against Miller.


In January 1997 Miller found a place of her own and she persuaded Earl Cosey's brother, B.C., to share the three-bedroom duplex off West Broadway in North Minneapolis. Though Earl came along pretty much uninvited, Miller was optimistic. B.C. was the only person who seemed able to calm his brother when he started "trippin'," she says.

On the fatal Valentine's Day, B.C. was supposed to join Miller, Earl Cosey, and several of their friends as they celebrated at a local bar. He later testified that he was at the apartment when his brother got home from work, about four in the afternoon, and that Earl went back out again to pick up a 12-pack of beer and a bottle of Seagram's gin.  

At some point that afternoon, one of the downstairs neighbors saw Earl Cosey shove Miller down the stairs leading from their apartment. According to trial testimony, the neighbor asked if she needed help, but Miller said no.

Another downstairs neighbor, Willie Mae Hollingsworth, was planning to come along to the bar. Hollingsworth and Miller were in and out of each other's apartments throughout the evening, picking out the clothes they were going to wear. Around 8:00 p.m., Hollingsworth put rollers in Miller's hair and went back to her place. She would later testify that she heard Miller and Cosey "shouting or laughing." Later she heard Miller saying, "Earl, leave me alone, leave me alone."

At the trial, Miller testified that B.C. saw what happened next, but he said he was in his room with the door closed. B.C. testified that he heard a loud noise, which he later concluded was Earl throwing a chair at Miller, and that when he opened the door he saw Miller leaning backward over the kitchen table with a bloody knife in her hand and Earl standing in front of her, looking surprised and apologizing. He said he took the knife from Miller and threw it away. It was later found in his room, along with a leg from the chair Earl had allegedly thrown.

Miller did not testify at her trial and, on her lawyer's advice, would not discuss the stabbing for this story. (Members of the Cosey family could not be reached for comment.) According to a synopsis Miller's attorneys prepared of her statements to police and in court, "she said that they were drinking and getting ready to go out and that Earl hit her and said, 'Bitch, you ain't going nowhere.' She said she was going out and walked into the kitchen and he grabbed her and hit her again in the back. Ms. Miller said she thought she'd have a mark on her back.

"Ms. Miller said that Earl threatened her, saying he was going to 'fuck [her] up' and she said, 'Earl, leave me alone.' She told him he couldn't keep hitting her and that she was not going to go back to the hospital. Earl followed her into the kitchen, pulling on her. She picked up a knife and said, 'Earl, please don't bother me...' She said she thinks she remembers the stabbing because she said, 'you can't hit me no more.'

"When she saw the blood, Ms. Miller started crying and said, 'Baby, here we go again.' Earl's eyes suddenly 'looked awake' and she walked with him into the dining room and helped him lie down. She pulled up his shirt to see the wound and he said he was sorry.

"B.C. said that something was wrong with Earl and she said that 'something should be wrong' after what he did to her in the kitchen. She then told B.C. to go and call for help because they didn't have a phone. Then some people from downstairs came up and offered assistance."

Police photos taken at the scene show most of a living-room chair lying on the kitchen floor. Underneath it, with its blade exposed, is a box cutter. At Miller's trial her attorney argued that the razor must have belonged to Earl Cosey; the sheath where he'd typically kept it was empty when police arrived. The prosecutor dismissed that suggestion, noting that during her police interrogation Miller had not volunteered anything about Cosey wielding a weapon.


You shouldn't have jumped on me. You shouldn't have done that... I got to go to the grocery store. We got to go to the store. Come on, baby. I know she's not lying. Oh my God. Baby, come back to me. I won't tell a soul. Come on, get me outta here. Come on, baby.

No. No, baby. You are not dead. You are not dead. Baby, you are not dead. They said you was dead.

He said he loved me. He was talking to me. He was saying he was sorry. He said he's sorry. I love you, baby. When you goin' to come get me? I love your ass even though you ain't going to stop that from now on. He won't stop it. Ain't going to stop it. Ain't going to stop it. Just come get me, baby. I swear I won't tell nobody. Just come get me. Nobody will know [Inaudible] again. When you jumpin' on me I swear I won't say shit. Just come get me. We got too much to do. Just come on get me. You're too evil to die.


Miller had been in jail for a month when the judge in her case ordered that she undergo a chemical-dependency evaluation. Based on its results, she was granted bail and sent to a treatment center. Concluding that a history of abuse had contributed to her drinking, a counselor called in Judi Nelson-Hall, an advocate with the nonprofit Domestic Abuse Project.  

To Nelson-Hall, the case seemed fairly typical. "Battering over a period of time always escalates," she explains. "The types of violence are getting worse and worse. Weapons start to get introduced and the periods between incidents grow shorter... By the time weapons are introduced to a situation, the lethality has become very high."

In treatment, Miller flourished. She attended Alcoholics Anonymous and worked with Nelson-Hall and others to learn about domestic violence. She moved on to a halfway house, where she helped counsel other women and attended their court hearings and trials. She was even commended by a staffer in the Hennepin County Attorney's office for her efforts.

In the past decade, Hennepin County prosecutors have built a national reputation for their work on domestic violence. They were among the first in the United States to go after alleged batterers whose victims refused to cooperate. They have also won praise for providing special advocates for victims and witnesses, first contracting with the Domestic Abuse Project and later hiring their own staff. During her campaign last year, newly elected Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar promised that domestic-violence cases would be among her top priorities.

Klobuchar directed questions about Miller's case to Kathryn Quaintance, the prosecutor who handled the matter. At the time of Miller's trial, Quaintance oversaw domestic-abuse prosecutions in the office; as the supervisor of all criminal prosecutions, she is now one of Klobuchar's two top deputies.

Quaintance rejects suggestions that Miller was a victim who lashed out in desperation: The woman she saw in the video taken the night of the stabbing, she says, was "drunk, profane, and self-pitying. To the extent that she was emotional, it was totally on her own behalf."

The evidence in the case, Quaintance goes on, confirmed her suspicion that the battering in the Miller-Cosey household was mutual. Physically, she notes, the couple were about an even match: Miller is 5-11 and at the time of the incident weighed 137 pounds. Cosey stood 5-7 and weighed 140 pounds. "I understand the whole dynamic here, including the fact that these people had been very violent with each other in the past, and that she had clearly been more violent than he," says the prosecutor; by way of evidence, she cites the scar on Cosey's chest from the box-cutter incident. "[It] was clearly mutual combat. Her injuries to him were much more significant. In this particular case, he battered her and she battered him."

Still, Quaintance says, she was willing to let Miller off with a year in the workhouse as long as she showed the proper remorse. "When you make an offer to somebody, it's 'If you're willing to admit you did this and that what you did was wrong, then you are amenable to probation. If you won't admit that what you did was wrong, then you are a greater danger to society.'"

In the end, public defender Trachy outlined to Miller the pros and cons of accepting the bargain, and then let her decide. She says she was nervous about the prospect of trying to find work and housing with a murder conviction on her record; more important, she still didn't believe she'd committed that crime. "It was really hard for her to plead guilty to murder," Nelson-Hall explains. "She felt like she'd come too far to say, 'Yes, I murdered him.'"


Just come get me. Come get me, Earl. Come get me. I swear I won't tell nobody. Just come get me and let's go home. Let's go home, baby. Let's go home. Please let's go home. Just come get me. She don't know [Inaudible]. She don't know. She was with me, how can she know? I know she going to be straight up. I'm in an interrogation room.

Baby, just come on get me. Shit. [Inaudible.] Come on get me, baby. Come get me. Come get me. Come get me, Earl. I won't tell nobody else when you beat me. You ain't dead. You just waiting on my ass to come home. Come on get me, baby, take me home.

If elements of Miller's tale sound familiar, it may be because the debate over how to punish battered women who kill is more than two decades old. In 1977 a Michigan jury acquitted Francine Hughes, the woman who'd set her husband's bed on fire after years of beatings (and whose saga later was the basis for the book and movie The Burning Bed). Hughes's attorney called in the National Organization for Women, which helped him craft one of the first successful defenses for a woman accused of a domestic homicide.  

Hughes was acquitted because she was able to convince a jury that killing her husband while he slept was a form of self-defense. She couldn't get away from him, her attorney argued, and she couldn't defend herself adequately while she was being beaten. Experts called by the defense described her condition as Battered Woman Syndrome, and the term became a household phrase.

Miller's principal defense at trial did not include testimony about the syndrome because, Trachy says, he felt it was not necessary. "We thought we had a very good case on just straight self-defense. Whether she was or wasn't a battered woman, she was being attacked by a guy with a knife who had backed her into a corner. You don't have to be a battered woman to fight back in those circumstances." If he had to try the case over, Trachy adds, he might not do it the same way. "That's a decision that I would want the chance to rethink and be more precise."

Advocates familiar with Miller's case wonder if Trachy miscalculated. One of the things jurors may not understand without testimony on Battered Woman Syndrome, they argue, is that frequently, domestic-violence victims literally cannot get out. They note that batterers often move their partners from city to city, breaking connections with friends and family, and that shelter space is notoriously tight, especially for women with children.

Moreover, studies by the U.S. Department of Justice and others have shown that in abusive relationships, breaking up might be one of the most dangerous things a victim can do. "One of the things about women leaving is that they're 75 percent more likely to be killed after they've left," asserts Nelson-Hall. "Walking out the door does not make you safe."

Advocates say there are no firm statistics on domestic abuse in Minnesota. But in any given year, Nelson-Hall estimates, between 20 and 40 women are killed by abusive partners statewide; in contrast, her program sees no more than one woman each year who has been charged with murdering her partner. Courts and prosecutors don't keep track of the number of the cases and their disposition; according to the National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women, 75 to 80 percent of such homicides nationwide end in convictions or guilty pleas.

Nelson-Hall says she urges clients to take plea bargains whenever they seem reasonable, in part because it's hard to prevail at trial with a self-defense argument. "There are very few women who have been acquitted using self-defense," she says. "I tend to say, 'Get the best deal you can and plead.'"

Liz Richards, an attorney and the manager of the nonprofit Battered Women's Defense Project in St. Paul, says it has become harder in recent years to mount "victim" defenses. Jurors, she explains, are not likely to sympathize with a defendant whose circumstances differ from theirs. "People have a real tendency to want to distance themselves from the situation, to say, 'This isn't my life and it's not going to happen in my relationship.' It's not like, 'Her life looks just like mine up until that day.' No--she's using drugs, there've been 200 police calls to the house."

Even without those complications, self-defense is a hard argument for battered women to make in Minnesota. As in most states, the law here recognizes that individuals are usually justified in fighting off an attacker in their home. Unlike many other states, however, Minnesota does not allow the "defense-of-dwelling" argument when the attacker lives in the house being defended. In other words, if Donna Miller had stabbed a burglar, her action might have been legally justifiable. Because Cosey lived with her, it was not.

Laws in Minnesota and most other states also hold that people who argue that they killed in self-defense must prove they could not have safely walked away from the dangerous situation. And it was on that point, according to court transcripts and the appeals-court ruling, that Miller's fate turned when her trial wrapped up in early October 1997.

"The legal excuse of self-defense is available only to those who act honestly and in good faith," Quaintance told the jury in her closing argument. "This includes the duty to retreat or avoid the danger if reasonably possible. So if you are getting hit, and this is happening at various places in the apartment and it's happening over a period of time and some of your friends come up to visit you from downstairs, you ask them for help. If there's another person in the back bedroom while this is going on, you ask them for help."  

Quaintance went on to list the doors leading out of Miller's apartment. "You have other options," she said. "You can run. You can also leave before it gets to this point if, in fact, you've been hit a number of times over the evening. You can also prosecute the first time it happens. You can seek protection from the police, as Donna Miller had done on other occasions."

After several minutes spent discussing the credibility of various witnesses, Quaintance returned to the subject of Miller's failure to foresee the deadly fight: "Now, [the defense] may want you to believe that on the prior occasion she stabbed him in self-defense also. We now have her involved in two stabbings with the same victim, and we are supposed to believe they were both in self-defense.

"Does she have some other choices? Doesn't she have some obligation to do something besides stab somebody when they attack her? Hasn't she been referred to an advocate on two separate hospital visits? Hasn't she failed to use the resources offered to her by the system? A whole bunch of [shelter] numbers on this blue card to get help. Hasn't she refused assistance? Hasn't she instead continued and escalated the violence?"

After deliberating for a few hours, the jury sent the judge a note asking whether there was "a legal definition for 'retreat' as used in the self-defense instructions." They were told to decide for themselves. After several more hours of deliberations, the panel convicted Miller of second-degree murder.

When the verdict was read, Miller was stunned. "It was agonizing," she says. "It was like everything stopped and all you could hear was paper shuffling. When they said said 'guilty,' it was like I stopped living. Everything went into slow motion.

"Even with all the people I had to talk to, I still felt alone," she recalls. "I felt like 'How could you let this happen to me?'"


Outside the Shakopee Correctional Facility, an unseasonably warm late-winter day is causing visitors to stuff their coats back into their cars before heading into the cement-block structures. As Donna Miller wraps up her story, the sun pouring through the picture windows heats up the inside, too. She hikes up the sleeves of her sweatshirt and glances around.

With its bright colors and neutral carpet, the space looks more like a dentist's waiting area than a prison visiting room. No gates clang shut as you enter or leave, and inmates are free to pull up one of the molded plastic chairs. It's hard to remember that Miller can't walk around the surrounding residential neighborhood or zip downtown anytime she wants a latte or a manicure. She's been here for 18 months and won't be eligible for release for at least another five years.

Miller's appeals attorney, Renee Bergeron, describes her client as a model prisoner. Her record at Shakopee has earned her the privilege of an apartment on the prison grounds, and administrators are trying to find time in the schedule for a battered women's group she hopes to run. She's also working two jobs--as a phone operator taking orders for products made by inmates and as a data-entry clerk for a cigarette company. When she leaves prison, she says, she wants to complete her GED and find a way to complete the two years of college she'd need to become a professional counselor.

And that day may not be far off: Two months ago, the Minnesota Court of Appeals overturned her conviction, challenging the argument Quaintance had used to wrap up her case. The prosecutor, the court concluded, erred in telling the jury that Miller should have left Cosey before the Valentine's Day stabbing. The "duty to retreat," the ruling noted, only applies at the time a fight or attack is actually occurring.

"The prosecution argued, with convoluted logic, that Miller did not have the right to self-defense that night, even if she was in fear of her life, because of something Miller did or did not do days and weeks before," the justices wrote. "Because the jury indicated confusion on this exact issue, it highlighted the prosecutor's error, and Miller was deprived of a fair trial."

If the Supreme Court elects to review the appeals-court ruling, arguments might not take place until next fall; a final decision probably would come no earlier than the end of the year. If the justices simply let the decision stand, Miller's conviction will be voided and prosecutors will have to decide whether to try her again.

Quaintance says she'll decide how to proceed when the time comes. Bergeron speculates that prosecutors may go back to where they started and draw up another plea bargain. And Miller, though still reluctant to apologize for her actions, says she might accept it. Given what she knows about the system now, she reasons, letting the state call her crime murder might be the best of her options.  


Oh my God. This just ain't right. What I do? Defend myself? Shit. If that's what it takes for defending myself? Defend my own self. No fucker like that [Inaudible] get my ass whupped at the hospitals and shit. I always go to work looking like I'm crazy and shit. At the bank and shit. I ain't crazy. I never done anything. Why is everyone else hurts me or beats me. And they keep on. Don't beat me...

Motherfucking criminal. I'm a criminal. Damn criminal. Me a criminal... Oh baby. Baby, what have I done? Get you up in here to talk to me and it will be all good. [Inaudible] do nothing, you know. I'm not like that... I didn't do anything. Defend myself. God.

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