Inez Garcia, who killed a man she said helped rape her and became a feminist symbol of a woman's right to self-defense, was acquitted today of second-degree murder after a retrial.
The jury of 10 men and 2 women deliberated nearly 11 hours spanning two days. The trial started Feb. 14.
Garcia was convicted in 1974 of second-degree murder in the death of Miguel Jimenez, who, she said, stood guard while another man raped her.
The California Court of Appeal overturned the conviction on a technical ground in December, 1975. Garcia was released on $5,000 bail after serving 15 months in prison.
The Monterey County courtroom, packed with about 75 supporters of the defendant, exploded into loud cheers when the verdict was read. Several women burst into tears.
"I'm going to make up for lost time with my kids," said a jubilant Mrs. Garica as she hugged her 13-year-old son, John, and a nephew and niece. She and her husband are separated.
Garcia embraced defense attorney Susan Jordan. "It's beautiful," said Jordan.
Garcia's first trial drew international attention as women's rights activists contended that the rape she said preceded the killing was being ignored and that Garica, found guilty and sentenced to five-years-to-life, was a victim of male prejudice surrounding the crime of rape. But today's jury acquitted Garcia after she was permitted to describe the alleged rape in court - she was forbidden to do so at the original trial - and the alleged rapist took the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.
The defense introduced testimony to show that she had been unable to talk to police about the rape when she was arrested March 19, 1974, because she felt too humiliated to discuss it.
The alleged rapist, Louis Castillo, has never been charged.
Garcia, who said at her original trial that she had gone looking for the two men with a gun after the alleged rape took place while Jimenez stood guard, told the jury in this trial she had left her house because she believed they would come there and kill her.
She said that she then ran into the men on the street and opened fire on Jimenez, whom she knew to carry a knife, when he raised his arm as if to throw something and she saw a flash.
An eight-inch knife identified as Jimenez' and said to have been found near his body was introduced as evidence in the trial.
Garcia was defended by radical lawyer Charles Garry at her first trial.