The Law: A Killing Excuse

Expanding the limits of self-defense

More than one-fourth of U.S. murders are family affairs, and the courts have never been particularly tough on defendants who act in the heat of a domestic quarrel. In recent weeks, however, an array of women have managed to walk away unpunished after killing their husbands or even former husbands:

>In Chicago, Juan Maldonado capped a drinking bout by beating his eight-year-old son with a shoe, so wife Gloria, 32, shot him three times. The state's attorney ruled there was "insufficient evidence" to warrant her prosecution.

>In Lansing, Mich.,...

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