Professor Faces Trial for Alleged Rapist's Murder

California says she was accomplice 18 years ago
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 21, 2013 11:23 PM CST
Updated Nov 22, 2013 1:11 AM CST
Patricia Esparza and her husband, Jorge Mancillas, right, hold a news conference in Santa Ana, Calif., earlier this week.   (AP Photo/he Orange County Register, Bruce Chambers)
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(Newser) – A psychology professor from a Swiss university is in a California jail, charged with helping murder the man she says raped her in 1995. Patricia Esparza, 39, was arrested last year in the cold case when she returned to the US for an academic conference. Authorities say 18 years ago, Esparza pointed out the man she claimed had raped her to her then-boyfriend, who was part of a group that kidnapped the man and beat him to death, reports the Los Angeles Times. Three other people have been charged in the case and Esparza's bail was revoked yesterday after she refused a plea deal.

Esparza—who is married with a 4-year-old daughter and lives in a small town in France near the Swiss border—says her ex-boyfriend forced her to watch the murder and she feared for her own safety. Under the deal she refused, she would have spent three years in prison for voluntary manslaughter. "The principle of what they're asking me is to plead guilty to something that they know I am not responsible for," she says. The case will now go to trial. "This is an incredible injustice," Esparza's husband, a neurobiologist, said after the hearing. "I guess in Orange County it doesn't count to be innocent." (Read more Patricia Esparza stories.)

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