Brittany Smith killed a man who brutally raped her and threatened her life. Despite the fact that it was self defense, she still faces a possible lifetime sentence.
How did it get to this?
In December 2017, Brittany had wanted a puppy, and an old acquaintance named Joshua Todd Smith, who went by Todd, happened to be selling some pit bulls. They messaged on Facebook for a week to arrange everything, and in that time, Todd made advances on Brittany. She did not reciprocate.
A little while later, Todd needed help, and Brittany was kind enough to let him stay at her place. He tried hitting on her again, and once again, she refused his advances. She said she didn’t think of him romantically.
Todd called her a bitch and chased her to her bedroom where he choked her and nearly broke her neck on the side of the bed. Brittany passed out.
He raped her twice, and threatened to kill her if she told her family. Thanks to Brittany’s own efforts, she was able to let her mother and her brother know what was going on. Her brother Chris came by with a gun to try and save her.
At Brittany’s place, Chris and Todd got into a fight, with Todd gaining the upper hand and putting Chris into a headlock. Brittany grabbed Chris’s gun and told Todd to stop. He refused.
Brittany shot him in the arm. Todd continued to beat up Chris. She shot Todd several more times, until he stopped moving.
.@DLoesch what’s the @NRA doing to help this woman? She’s in a Stand Your Ground state and shot a man who had brutally raped her and was attacking her brother in her house. She was a good person with a gun - where you at? https://t.co/U4aXBJ8QwX— Amy McDonald (@amymaccc) April 22, 2019
Ok so this woman was basically held hostage & raped in her own home and now she’s being blamed for defending herself like we are all told to do? Lmao ok, say you hate women and that no matter what we do we can’t win. https://t.co/smZdhelsNg— Aundrea Michelle (@dre_michelle_) April 22, 2019
This is an absolutely painful situation. It is a lot to describe, even in this abbreviated form. But it’s paramount to understand what Brittany went through and why this case is such a miscarriage of justice.
In March 2018, Jackson County DA, Jason Rupert Pierce convened a grand jury and indicted Brittany Smith for murder.
Initially, Chris said he had shot Todd. However, the next day, Brittany admitted it was her. A rape crisis report recorded the wounds on her body, and a toxicology report showed alcohol and meth in Todd’s body.
This didn’t counter the lead investigator’s testimony about the case which led to the indictment.
He said the bruises were not consistent with her statement that Todd tried to choke her to death.
“Honestly, I would have thought there would be more,”
The rape crisis report showed she had more than 30 wounds on her body, including bite marks on her neck and chin.
Police photographed 33 wounds on Brittany’s body, including bite marks on her neck and chin, inflicted during her brutal rape.— feminist next door (@emrazz) April 21, 2019
Get a gun, they say. Shoot the guy, they say. Take responsibility for your own protection, they say. But they don’t actually care what happens to us. https://t.co/1dfbfqYeyF
jUsT gEt A gUn— Larissa Aloygang Fae 🏳️🌈 (@LarissaFae) April 22, 2019
Police officers walk free after killing innocent black people, but women like Brittany Smith face life in prison for protecting themselves from rapists. Someone please explain the justice system to me again. I'm confused. #CritDigPracNYU https://t.co/QVbbOu2wQg— Jasmin West (@jnw314) April 17, 2019
What the actual fuck is wrong with this country, how can a judge keep his power after this sentencing? I have no words https://t.co/NlmUT2OFxx— Josh (@josh_terrasa) April 22, 2019
Making this more surprising is that Alabama is a “Stand Your Ground” state. These controversial laws allow lethal use of force in a very broad range of circumstances so long as you fear being killed or raped by an attacker.
Brittany has not been holding up well. Being treated as a criminal and held in jail so soon after a traumatic experience has affected her mental health.
Her mother has said that Brittany did not receive treatment for the post traumatic stress disorder she had been diagnosed with after the attack. She has also accused the jailers of taunting Brittany.
Last December, she underwent psychiatric evaluation, and in February, a judge ruled she was not competent to stand trial. She’s now waiting to be evaluated by a psychologist.
Her case is still proceeding in the meantime. Her attorney will either need to successfully argue the “Stand Your Ground” defense, and get the judge to throw out the murder charge, or it goes to trial where she must argue self-defense.
STAND YOUR GROUND. But only if you’re a white dude. Otherwise you’ll be treated as a criminal, thrown in solitary, have terrible representation, be mocked by your jailers and state psychiatrists, and face life in prison. All after being brutally raped. Twice. Amirite, @nra, @gop? https://t.co/upgPBFnAa2— Kimber Lofgren (@KimberLofgren) April 22, 2019
For more information about the history of “Stand Your Ground” laws, and why they do not, in fact, support the very people they claim to protect, check out Stand Your Ground: A History of America’s Love Affair with Lethal Self-Defense.