Spared a threatened 15-year prison term, a woman cleared of murder in the shooting of her would-be rapist said Wednesday she would use her new freedom to become a lawyer to defend women’s rights.
Flanked by her husband, five children and two lawyers at a news conference, Claudia Rodriguez thanked all those who had supported her during a one-year stay in jail, which ended Tuesday after a judge found she had acted in self-defense in shooting and killing a drunken assailant.
“The only thing I did was defend my life and my honor,” said Rodriguez, a 30-year-old housewife whose case had been taken up by women’s groups at home and abroad as an example of the double standard females face in Mexico’s macho society.
With help from her husband, Rodriguez said, she now hoped to complete high school and enter law school by next year.
“I want to study law to help other women like me,” she said. “I am not the only Claudia.”
Rodriguez’s ordeal began Feb. 3, 1996, when she and a girlfriend left a bar in Texcoco, about 30 miles east of Mexico City. An acquaintance lunged at her, ripping her clothes and trying to rape her, she said.
Rodriguez pulled a .22-caliber pistol from her purse and shot Juan Miguel Cabrera, 27, once in the chest. She told police and was taken to jail immediately.
Prosecutors charged Rodriguez with murder despite her claims of self-defense. In July, a judge refused to dismiss the murder charge, suggesting that she had enticed Cabrera by having a drink with him at the bar.
“In remaining in the company of her aggressor, despite his propositions to her, she provoked him to attack her so she could shoot him in some vital part of his body,” Judge Gustavo Aquiles Gasca wrote.
Amid a growing outcry over her prosecution, authorities dropped the murder charge and allowed Rodriguez to go free Tuesday after paying $1,538 in damages to Cabrera’s family. She also paid a $256 fine for “using excessive force in her legitimate defense.”
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