Self-defense is not a crime: Charmaine Pfender was 18 years old when she shot and killed a man who was attempting to rape her. At age 19, she was sentenced to life without parole for this act of self-defense.
Charmaine has served 29 years in prison. When the man she was on a date with pulled a knife and attempted to rape her, Charmaine struggled back, reached for a gun and fired a warning shot out the side window. When she tried to flee her attacker, he chased after her with a knife in hand, so she shot him.
Charmaine should never have been convicted of murder. She fought for her life against a knife-wielding man who was attempting to rape her. This is self-defense, not a crime.
At her trial, the state’s sole material witness told a story full of holes and contradictions, Charmaine’s lawyer failed to provide an assertive self-defense claim or call critical character witnesses and experts on the psychological impact of sexual violence. Charmaine was found guilty and has been fighting this injustice ever since.
The Abolitionist Law Center represents Charmaine, and is working with the Women and Trans Prisoner Defense Committee to strategize on how to win her release from prison. As an abolitionist organization we are committed to fighting gender oppression, sexual violence, and the ways in which the criminal legal system is based upon and enables hetero-patriarchy and rape culture.