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Ohio Teen Killed Weeks After Opening Up About Domestic Violence In Facebook Post

17-year-old LaShonda Childs was trying to move on from an abusive relationship when she was murdered.  

With October being Domestic Violence Awareness month, the murder of 17-year-old LaShonda Childs is another crushing and tragic reminder of the number of black girls who suffer through intimate partner violence. Childs was shot and killed earlier in the week following a fatal run-in with her ex-boyfriend, Trendell Goodwin, who has been arrested and charged in her murder.

“If you see the signs don’t ignore it y’all. Domestic violence is real not just in movies,” Childs warned on Facebook on Sept. 21 in a detailed post sharing some of the many instance of abuse that she experienced during her relationship with Goodwin.

Nearly two weeks later, on Oct. 2, Childs was seated in the passenger side of a 2006 Chevrolet Impala driven by her boyfriend as Goodwin fired multiple shots into the vehicle. Childs’ boyfriend transported her to Grandview Medical Center in Dayton, Ohio, where she was pronounced dead the following morning. Her death was ruled a homicide by a gunshot wound to the head.

Moments prior to the shooting, Childs called 911 to report that Goodwin “pointed a gun” at her boyfriend’s head. She also told the dispatcher that she had a restraining order against him.

“I’m scared," she said. “He’s got a gun. I can’t talk...I’m in a bad situation.”

The Cycle Of Abuse

Childs was trapped so deeply in the cycle of abuse, that she battled between protecting Goodwin, and moving on with her life. Her death reiterates the fear of being stalked and even killed, that contributes to why a number of domestic violence victims stay in abusive relationships.

Regardless of their partner's ethnic background, Black women experience intimate partner violence at a rate of 35 percent higher than whites and up to two-and-a-half times more than other races. Black women are four times more likely to be killed by an intimate partner of any ethnicity, and black teens are more like than white teens to be hit by a boyfriend or girlfriend. The most common age when women (of all races) first experience intimate partner violence is between 18-34, followed by girls ages 11-17.

In April, Childs wrote a letter asking Dayton Municipal Court Judge Daniel Gehres to release Goodwin from jail, after one of at least a dozen reported incidents of abuse dating back to 2017. According to the excerpts of the letter published by the Daytona Daily News, Childs’ insisted that Goodwin was a “genuinely kind hearted, family oriented man,” and described the assault as a “rough patch in a life together that resulted in a huge mess.”

Childs said that she and Goodwin were “good people with short tempers,” and that she wanted things to turn around. “Hopefully we can put this in our past and start over.”

Failed Order Of Protection

By early September, Judge Gehres ordered Goodwin to stay at least 500 feet away from Childs, and extended his probation (stemming from the April incident) another year. Goodwin broke the protective order within three days, reportedly showing up to Childs' home and setting one of her wigs on fire, throwing it at her and stealing her cell phone. Days after the alleged robbery, Goodwin was accused of firing shots at the home where Childs' lived with her family.

In early 2017, police were called after Goodwin broke Childs’ phone and threw her purse in the sewer, during an argument where he accused her of texting another man. Last Christmas Eve, Goodwin argued with Childs about more alleged text messages and dragged her out of a car by her feet, according to a police report. The domestic violence calls continued through April 2018, when Childs penned the letter to the judge. Roughly one month later, Childs’ mother told police that Goodwin shot up her house and threatened to kill her daughter. Childs’ mother also claims Goodwin, 28, told the teen that he was 20 years old when they first met.

“She was really in the process of leaving this time, but it was basically a fatal attraction,” her brother Jaylon said in an interview. “Whatever happens to him, we can’t get our sister back, but as long as justice is served, there may be some peace.”

Not Guilty Plea

Goodwin pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Friday (Oct. 5), which would have been Childs' 18th birthday. He was arraigned on two counts of murder and improper discharge of a firearm and three counts of felonious assault.

Speaking to Ohio's WHIO-TV, Goodwin’s father called the murder a “tragedy for both families,” and extended condolences to Childs’ loved ones. “It’s too late to say I wish things could have been different.”

He added that there are “two sides to every story,” and claimed that Childs’ boyfriend pulled a gun on his son. Despite defending him, Goodwin's father noted, “If it’s proven that he did it, he deserves to be punished.”

Goodwin’s lawyer requested the minimum bond available. The judge set a cash bond of $ 1 million. Goodwin's preliminary hearing is scheduled for Oct. 12.

READ MORE: Serena Williams On Domestic Violence: “This Is A Human Rights Issue”

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Court Rules Cyntoia Brown Must Spend 51 Years In Prison To Be Eligible For Parole

Cyntoia Brown must spend at least five decades in prison before she will be eligible for parole, a Tennessee Supreme Court Supreme Court ruled Thursday (Dec. 6). Brown, 30, has been behind bars for more than a decade for the 2004 murder of real-estate agent Johnny Allen.

Lawyers for Brown say that her life sentence amounts to cruel and unusual punishment because she was a minor at the time of her arrest, despite being tried as an adult. Brown’s petition for post-conviction relief argues that her mandatory minimum sentence is unconstitutional, citing the Supreme Court’s 2012 ruling in Miller v. Alabama.

In an eight page decision, the state Supreme Court of judges unanimously concluded that a "defendant so convicted and sentenced to life in prison under Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-13-202(c)(3)" on or after July 1, 1995, must serve “at least 51 years of imprisonment” prior to parole eligibility.

“The District Court denied relief, reasoning that Miller prohibits a mandatory sentence of life without the possibility of parole for juvenile offenders, and Ms. Brown received a life sentence, not a sentence of life without the possibility of parole,” the decision reads.

The state’s Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals heard Brown’s legal argument over the summer but turned the decision over to the higher court.

Brown was convicted in 2006 of first-degree murder, felony murder and aggravated robbery. Prosecutors claimed that the then 16-year-old Brown shot and killed Allen, who drove her back to his home and paid her for sex, during a murder robbery. Brown maintains that she shot Allen in self-defense. The trial court merged Brown's convictions, handing down  a mandatory life sentence.

A survivor of child sex-trafficking, rape, and physical and mental abuse, Brown became widely known after the 2011 documentary, Me Facing Life: The Cyntoia Brown Story. The Memphis native is currently serving time at the Tennessee Prison for Women.

READ MORE: Cyntoia Brown's Life Sentence Sparks Outrage Over America's Justice System

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Charlottesville Killer Found Guilty Of First-Degree Murder, Hit And Run

James Alex Fields Jr. was found guilty Friday (Dec. 7) in the murder of Heather Heyer, during the Charlottesville riots last year. Jurors in Virginia deliberated for less than eight hours before returning a first-degree murder conviction, the Associated Press reports.

Fields claimed self-defense drove him to ram his Dodge Charger into a crowd during last summer’s "Unite the Right" rally, a notion which the jury ultimately rejected. Prosecutors argued the that 21-year-old Nazi sympathizer deliberately sped his vehicle through a crowd of counter-protesters striking “numerous individuals,” one of which was Heyer, a 32-year-old legal assistant marching against the white nationalist riot.

In addition to murder, for which he faces 20 years to life in prison, Fields was  convicted on nine charges including hit and run, and five counts of aggravated malicious wounding.  A sentencing hearing is scheduled to begin Dec. 9.

Fields could be in line for the death penalty, if convicted on 30 federal hate crime charges. No trial date has been set in the case.

READ MORE: Man Attacked By Nazis At Charlottesville Riots Recalls Harrowing Incident

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Woman Fatally Stabbed In Baltimore After Giving Money To Panhandler

A woman was stabbed to death in Baltimore after attempting to help a panhandler who appeared to be cradling an infant and holding a sign reading, “Please help me feed my baby.”

According to the Baltimore Sun-Times, Jacquelyn Smith and her husband, Keith Smith, were on their way back from taking his daughter out for her 28th birthday Friday (Nov. 30) night, when they came upon a young woman standing in the rain.

“We stopped here on this corner,” the victim’s husband recalled from the scene of the crime. “A girl was out here with what looked like a baby in her hand and it was raining.” Though he admitted to being “reluctant” to open the window because it was so late at night, the 52-year-old minister said that his wife felt compelled to help the woman.

Seconds after Jacqueline Smith pulled gave the woman $10, a man walked up to the car and asked Mr. Smith if he could thank his wife. “As he did that he commenced to stabbing my wife, ” Keith Smith continued. “He snatched her neckless before I knew it and the girl snatched her pocketbook on the seat, and they both ran.”

The unidentified female suspect told the victim, “God bless you” before fleeing the scene. Keith Smith initially hopped out the car to chase after the duo, but turned back to help his dying wife. He called 911 and rushed her to Johns Hopkins Hospital where the 54-year-old electrical engineer was pronounced dead two hours later.

Both suspects remain at large. The Baltimore Police Department have yet to find any leads in the murder.

In a subsequent interview, Keith Smith revealed that he's riddled with the guilt. "I don't want to beat myself up, but I feel somewhat responsible for letting that person get that close to my wife," he told ABC News. "It's just a lot right now going through my mind. That's why it's hard for me to sleep because now I'm trying to see how I could have did things differently, how I could have took another street. I'm just thinking of all kind of ways that my wife would still be here."

With the holiday season in full effect, people may be more compelled to help strangers, but advocates for the homeless fear that the incident could add to negative stigmas surrounding helping those in need. Fellow Good Samaritan, Oprah Winfrey, even tweeted that she'll "think twice" before opening her wallet. "This story struck my heart," Winfrey wrote. "I’ve done this a [1,ooo] times. But will think twice before ever doing [it] again. To J.S. family I hope her death gets people 'woke' to change!"

BPD interim police Commissioner Gary Tuggle cautioned residents “not to engage” with panhandlers, as not all of them have “honest intent.”

A public memorial for Jacquelyn Smith will be held on Dec. 7 at the Maryland church where her husband is a preacher, followed by a private service in her hometown of Providence, R.I.

See more on the tragedy below.

54 y/o Jacquelyn Smith was murdered in East #Baltimore this wknd after she rolled down her window to give some money to a woman trying to feed her baby. Smith’s husband Keith tells @WMAR2News - his wife just wanted to help and in a second, she was stabbed in the chest.

— Brian Kuebler (@BrianKuebler_) December 3, 2018

READ MORE: Seven Baltimore Police Officers Under Fire For Alleged Robbery, Claiming False Overtime

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