Twelve jurors found Cherelle Baldwin, 24, not guilty of murder in the death of her ex-boyfriend, Jeffery Brown, on Thursday. Police said Baldwin had rammed her car into Brown in May 2013, pinning him to a cinderblock wall outside her house and causing his death. Baldwin has been held behind bars on a $1 million bail for Brown’s death for three years. She has always insisted that she acted in self-defense. Her first trial had the jury deadlocked in an 11-1 verdict, leaving Superior Court Judge Maria Kahn little choice but to declare a mistrial.
According to the Huffington Post, a jury made up of five men and seven women found her not guilty. An overjoyed Baldwin fell to the floor in tears as the jury announced the verdict.
“My baby, my baby will have his mommy back,” she cried.
During her time in jail, Cherelle Baldwin had missed her son’s three birthdays, and her dreams of becoming a registered nurse had also gone up in smoke.
Baldwin had told the jury that on May 18, 2013, Brown had broken into her house and tried to kill her, wrapping a belt around her neck in front of the child they had together. She said she had broken free and ran out of the house without her glasses, shoes, and even her child.
Baldwin said she barely made it to the car when Brown tried to get into the car from the passenger’s side, before jumping on the hood of the car. Baldwin said she stepped on the gas and the next thing she remembered was being thrown outside her vehicle and having a broken leg.
“Everything happened so quick, all I could think about was the baby,” she said during her trial.
When police arrived, they found Brown wedged between the car and a garage wall and Baldwin on the ground with a bleeding leg. A firefighter said she was slipping in and out of consciousness but kept crying for her 19-month old child, who was alone in the house. Brown died at the scene of the crash. Police did not buy Baldwin’s story that she was defending herself. They said she had enough time to consider the gravity of her actions before killing Jeffery Brown and that there was no physical evidence that the deceased tried to strangle her. Three weeks later, Baldwin was charged with murder and arraigned in a wheelchair. She had never been arrested before that time.
Brown had cut up her tires, stalked Baldwin’s mother, broken a window in her house, choked her, and pulled her by her hair during an altercation. Ten days prior to his death, Brown had been told by a court to stop issuing threats or committing acts of violence against Baldwin. He remained unperturbed by the court order and, on the day of his death, had sent Baldwin an ominous text that said “DOA on sight,” meaning “dead on arrival.”
The murder trial rallied over 40 domestic organizations across America asking for prosecutors to strike out the charges against Baldwin. A petition launched by Ultraviolet, a nonprofit organization, garnered more than 32,000 signatures. During the closing arguments of the murder trial, everywhere was packed as domestic violence activists came out to show their solidarity and support for Baldwin.
Miles Gerety, Baldwin’s defense lawyer, said he had never had a client who he connected with so dearly.
“When a battered woman steps out of the role of being a victim and defends herself, many in our society stop thinking she was battered, I’m very happy,” he said.
Jeffery Hine Brown’s father said he respected the decision of the jury, pointing to a ring on one of his fingers bearing the scales of justice.
“They made a decision and that’s it,” he said.
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[Image via Fairfield County Jail]