Texas Jury Says It’s Cool To Murder Prostitutes For Not Having Sex With You

By Amanda Marcotte
Thursday, June 6, 2013 13:20 EDT
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Via Gawker: This story is beyond belief. Ezkiel Gilbert shot Lenora Ivie Frago, which initially paralyzed her and then, after nine months, she finally died. Even though Gilbert admitting killing Frago, the jury acquitted him. Why? Because he claims he shot her because she wouldn’t participate in an activity that is banned in the state of Texas.

Gilbert’s actions were justified, they argued, because he was trying to retrieve stolen property: the $150 he paid Frago. It became theft when she refused to have sex with him or give the money back, they said.

Gilbert testified earlier Tuesday that he had found Frago’s escort ad on Craigslist and believed sex was included in her $150 fee. But instead, Frago walked around his apartment and after about 20 minutes left, saying she had to give the money to her driver, he said.

The prosecutors—correctly!—argued that the law that allows citizens to shoot in an attempt to retrieve stolen property is not there to give you the right to use lethal force to rape someone. But apparently, the jury disagreed and thought that giving a man a right to tell a woman that her options are rape or death is A-OK with them, if she accepted money from him. This is beyond the beyond. Look, if your drug dealer takes your money and doesn’t give you drugs, you can’t call the cops to report him. You can’t sue him for breach of contract. Black market activities are true caveat emptor kind of situations. But apparently, some Texas jury was easy to convince you should be able to use lethal force to enforce what wasn’t even an explicit contract (since prostitutes often charge for their time and the sex is a freebie *wink wink*) that the courts won’t recognize. Because it’s illegal.

Not that it would be okay to shoot someone for perceived breach of contract if prostitution was legal. At best, you’d have a right to sue. But hey, I think prostitution is one case where the libertarian arguments for a strict free market should apply: If you pay a lady for her services and find them inadequate, your only legal recourse should be to not use her services again. Anything outside of that verges into rape-y territory. But under no fucking circumstances do you get to take her life.

Basically, you’re seeing the same problem that you see with “stand your ground” laws and other such laws that give people broad rights to shoot outside of immediate self-defense. It turns shooting cases into situations where the jury just basically rules in favor of the person who has higher social status. “White man” outranks “Hispanic prostitute”, and so shooting her is rendered legal, as long as you can cough up the thinnest of justifications. But if you’re a black woman who doesn’t even hurt someone while firing a gun in actual self-defense, too bad for you! These laws are custom made to be exploited for racist and sexist ends.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
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