Neither men nor women are exempt from killing loved ones. The differ­ence is in what happens to them when they do. Twelve distinct female-only defenses allow a woman who commits a premeditated murder to have the charges dropped or significantly reduced. No man has successfully used any of these defenses in similar circumstances. Nor do men have any equivalent male-only defenses. Each of these defenses therefore violates the Four­teenth Amendment s guarantee of equal protection to both sexes under the law. And all twelve defenses combined create overwhelming evidence of a double standard of self-defense that will be wreaking havoc in the legal system for decades and be affecting for a lifetime our children s decisions as to whether to marry.

polygraph test – yet the prosecutor who handled the Richardson appeal acknowledges that no one during the original trial ever saw the test.’

James Richardson literally watched his own coffin being built. But the death sentence was temporarily commuted in 1972. And then, after James spent two decades in prison. Bessie Reese finally confessed to poisoning the children. But the belief in "the innocent woman" and "the guilty man" was strong enough that even a second signed affidavit by Bessie did not lead to a new trial for James Which illustrates the basis of the innocent woman defense – the innocent woman principle: women are believed when they say they are innocent of violence and most easily doubted when they say they are guilty of violence

It took political protests over the racism (James was black; Bessie was white) to lead to a new trial and Richardson s release (after twenty-one years in prison).

The risibility of rocltm versus the Invisibility of sexism

This case became known only as an example of racism. But were it only racism, then Mrs. Richardson, who is black, would also have been investig­ated. Although Mrs. Richardson was at the same place as her husband when the poisonings occurred, neither she nor Bessie ever became a serious suspect. In essence, neither woman became a serious suspect – only the man.

Sexism permeated the Bessie Reese case. It was inherent in the entire community’s unwillingness to create the political pressure necessary’ for Bessie to become a s us pea despite her history of husband killing.

The cost of proteaing women who kill is the same as the cost of protecting men who kill: the killer continues to kill – not just disposable men but precious children.

To this day, Bessie Reese has not been charged with the murders to which she confessed.4