Eighteen years ago, Norma Patricia Esparza was with friends at a bar when she pointed out a man who had raped her in her college dorm at Pomona State College. Just hours after she'd identified her rapist, he was found beaten and hacked to death by a meat cleaver. Esparza says her then-boyfriend committed the murder and forced her to keep his crime a secret. Now the mother and college professor faces jail time for her rapist's murder. Investigators want to charge her with first-degree special circumstances murder for conspiring and concealing the murder. "The principle of what they're asking me is to plead guilty to something that they know I am not responsible for," Esparza says. "It would essentially be a lie."
Esparza claims that her ex-boyfriend had forced her to point out her rapist. She also says police first told her she was not a target of their investigation, but now that she's cooperated with them, they're pressuring her to take a plea. The married mother of a four-year-old could face life without parole if convicted.
Prosecutors, on the other hand, say they have evidence to prove Esparza's guilt beyond the shadow of a doubt.
I wonder what happened here. On one hand, I can see how a scared, traumatized young woman could get pressured by an apparently VERY aggressive boyfriend to finger her rapist. She probably had an inkling he'd try to take revenge, but how could she know he'd resort to murder? With a MEAT CLEAVER! And I can imagine after that she'd definitely want to keep her mouth shut rather than risk meeting the same end. Can you blame her? There's a change.org petition urging prosecutors to drop their case against Esparza.
On the other hand, I wonder if she said or revealed something that made investigators believe she had more of a hand in her rapist's murder. It's like they smelled blood on her. She could have actually plotted her rapist's murder with her boyfriend. It's possible.
But it's been 18 years. And since Esparza is a rape victim I feel squeamish about the idea of prosecuting her -- especially for a crime she did not commit herself. Can't they be satisfied with the conviction of the actual murderer?
Do you think Esparza should be held partly responsible for the murder of her rapist?
Image via Heather/ Flickr