Cherelle Baldwin, 24, has been found innocent by a jury of 12 on charges of murdering her abusive ex-boyfriend. In May 2013, Baldwin crashed her car into Brown in self-defense and has been in jail on $1 million bond ever since, facing up to 60 years in prison, according to Huffington Post.
Baldwin reportedly fell to the floor in tears upon the reading of the verdict when she found out she’d get to finally go home to her family and five-year-old son.
“I just, like, collapsed,” Baldwin said in an interview with Democracy Now. “I just—I couldn’t believe it. When they said ‘not guilty of all five accounts,’ I just—it was just like God sent an angel down and saved me. It was amazing.”
Baldwin’s case became one of high profile because of the similarities it had to many others where women were punished for defending themselves while in abusive relationships. Like many of those other cases, Baldwin had a long-proven history of abuse in the relationship and was still incarcerated as a result.
Baldwin informed the jury – which was composed of 7 women and 5 men – of the climate of her relationship with Jeffrey Brown before and including the fatal altercation in 2013. Ten days before, Brown was convicted of a misdemeanor for a prior and separate incident when he threw out Baldwin’s clothes and her phone as she tried to call 911. As a result, he was forbidden to commit violence, threaten or harass her. Police reportedly responded to a total of two previous incidents out of the many where Brown allegedly slashed her tires, stalked her at work and choked her.
Unfortunately, this led Brown to stalk Baldwin until he broke into her house on May 18, 2013 and strangled her with a belt. Baldwin was able to get away briefly and fled to her car while leaving behind shoes, glasses and her young son, who witnessed the attack. Brown reportedly followed her to the car, continued the attack and somehow ended up on the hood. That is when the fatal crash occurred.
“Everything happened so quick,” Baldwin said. “All I could think about was the baby.”
Evidence for the case included text messages Brown sent to Baldwin’s phone that morning, some of which were clearly threatening in nature and included terms like “doa on sight”. Unfortunately, at the time, Baldwin’s account didn’t hold up with local police who questioned the absence of visible marks on her neck that would suggest she had been choked.
“When a battered woman steps out of the role of being a victim and defends herself, many in our society stop thinking she was battered,” said Miles Gerety, Baldwin’s defense attorney. “I’m very happy.”
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