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Woman Acquitted Of Murdering Alleged Rapist

April 18, 1985

DETROIT (AP) _ A woman who stabbed her alleged rapist 47 times then claimed self-defense has been acquitted of murdering a man prosecutors said may have been asleep or unconscious at the time of the slaying.

A Detroit Recorder’s Court jury deliberated seven days before finding Karen Norman, 20, innocent Wednesday of murdering Lamont Powell, 25.

″I’d like to thank the Lord most of all,″ a weeping Ms. Norman said afterward. ″I wasn’t expecting anything. I was just praying.″

It was the second trial within four months for Ms. Norman. Her first trial ended Dec. 27 in a mistrial when a jury considering the second-degree murder charge deadlocked 11-1 in favor of conviction.The second trial lasted three weeks.

The case drew support from feminist groups for Ms. Norman, who claimed Powell raped her after a date and that she stabbed him out of fear for her life and those of her two children.

An autopsy revealed that Powell had been stabbed 47 times on May 5, 1984, in Ms. Norman’s Detroit home.

Ms. Norman, a Wayne State University sophomore, was pregnant at the time of Powell’s slaying, but the child died of birth defects before her second trial began.

Prosecutors claimed Powell either was asleep or unconscious at the time of the slaying and that his wounds indicated he had not resisted the attack. His blood-alcohol level was 0.18 of a percent, nearly twice the legal level of intoxication, when his body was discovered in Ms. Norman’s bathroom.

But Ms. Norman’s lawyer, Marjory Cohen, disputed prosecutors’ claims that the slaying was premeditated and that Powell could not defend himself against the fatal attack.

″It seems the biggest crime Karen Norman committed was escaping without serious injuries - and isn’t that the point of self-defense?″ Ms. Cohen argued.

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