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Justice for Rosario Muñoz

by staff |
May 1, 2004

Los Angeles, CA - The case of Rosario Muñoz, a victim of domestic violence and of court injustice, has reached a critical point. At a press conference, April 9, the Free Rosario Muñoz Committee announced the denial of the writ of habeas corpus petition by a Superior Court judge - and her pending deportation. She will appeal to a higher court, a process that takes at least six months, but as things stand, she will be deported to Mexico.

Muñoz’s case has drawn widespread attention across California. Her attorney, Carlos Vellanoweth, filed a writ of habeas corpus to overturn Muñoz’s original guilty plea. If successful, Rosario would have been eligible for a waiver in immigration law, allowing her to stay in the U.S. with a green card.

The Free Rosario Muñoz Committee tells how the case came to be: “Rosario Muñoz was a Mexican immigrant who was a victim of domestic violence. In 1987 Rosario Muñoz had already endured 14 years of physical, verbal and emotional abuse from her husband Felix, who made her work more than 15 hours a day to help support his lover. He would rape her, beat her, pointed a gun at her head threatening to kill her… Rosario stayed with her abuser because she was undocumented and she wanted to gain legal residence in this country and she had three children to support.”

After finding the doors to shelters closed to her because she is a non-citizen and police who told her that domestic violence was a ‘personal problem’ she confronted her abuser. She took his gun. After 14 years of physical, verbal and emotional abuse to her and her three children, she aimed at her abuser and shot. She missed him and accidentally shot his mistress.

It took one week to convict Muñoz of second-degree murder, a crime that carries 15 years to life. During the trial, domestic violence was never considered as a mitigating factor. After serving 15 years as a model prisoner, Muñoz was paroled - in part due to pressure from the Chicano/Latino community and those demanding justice for domestic violence victims.

After her parole, Muñoz did not get the freedom she deserved. She remains in jail, facing deportation. Her defense committee states, “Rosario, her family and supporters are committed to continue the fight for her freedom and reunification with her family. They see Rosario as an example of the many Mexican and Latino immigrants who are fighting for a better life and equal rights as working people in the U.S.”

The Muñoz case brings together a number of vital issues - the inequality and national oppression faced by Mexican immigrants and the Chicano nation as a whole, domestic violence and systematic oppression of women - and a criminal justice system that serves only the rich and powerful.

Rosario Muñoz does not belong behind bars. She belongs with her family and community in the U.S.