The Edwards court corrected the Eastern District's "reasonable battered woman" standard in Williams and held that if a jury believes a defendant is suffering from BWS, "it must weigh the evidence in light of how an otherwise reasonable person who is suffering from battered spouse syndrome would have perceived and reacted in view of the prolonged history of physical abuse." (93) The court highlighted that a reasonable and prudent person does not act and react in the same way as a person suffering from a prolonged history of physical abuse.
(50.) Kathee Rebemak Brewer, Note, Missouri's New Law on 'Battered Spouse Syndrome: ' A Moral Victory, a Partial Solution, 33 ST.
(175.) See Brewer, supra note 50 (stating the legislative intent in passing Section 563.033 was "to remove the decision whether to admit expert testimony on 'battered spouse syndrome' from the trial judge's discretion").
Battered spouse syndrome, also referred to as battered wife syndrome or battered woman's syndrome, is the physical and psychological condition of a person subject to repeated forceful, physical, or psychological abusive behavior by an intimate partner.
According to experts, a relationship in which an individual suffers from battered spouse syndrome cycles between three phases.
The General Role of Evidence of Battered Spouse Syndrome in Criminal Cases
Battered spouse syndrome is not a stand-alone defense to a criminal charge and does not automatically compel acquittal.
Evidence of battered spouse syndrome does not remove any question of fact from the jury because, in most jurisdictions, the expert does not testify specifically as to whether the particular defendant demonstrates characteristics of battered spouse syndrome.
Abused women who live in fear for their lives and who ultimately kill their abuser may suffer from battered spouse syndrome. Battered spouse syndrome is created by a cycle of physical abuse within a relationship.
One of the earliest cases in this country to allow the defense of battered spouse syndrome was State v.
To justify homicide under any claim of self defense, a defendant must establish the presence of three elements: 1) the defendant believed she must use force against an imminent threat of harm; 2) the amount of force used was proportionate to the threatened harm; and 3) the defendant retreated to the greatest degree reasonably possible. Evidence that a woman suffers from battered spouse syndrome addresses part one of this standard, namely, whether the woman honestly feared for her life.
A defense premised on battered spouse syndrome was all but impossible.