She Could've Gotten Life. What Prosecutors Sought Made Her Faint

Frenchwoman Valerie Bacot collapses in court on Friday
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 25, 2021 9:40 AM CDT
Updated Jun 27, 2021 11:55 AM CDT
Woman Who Killed Abusive Husband Collapses in Court
Valerie Bacot, center, arrives with relatives at the Chalon-sur-Saone courthouse in France on Thursday.   (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

A Frenchwoman on trial for murdering her abusive husband, who was her abusive stepfather before he forced her to marry him, collapsed in court Friday after hearing how long prosecutors were asking for her to spend in prison. Valerie Bacot, now 40, could have seen life in prison after admitting to killing Daniel Polette, who she says started raping her when she was 12. But during courtroom proceedings on Friday, prosecutors asked for five years behind bars for Bacot, with four years suspended—meaning, because she's already been in detention for a year, she'll likely walk away a free woman, per the Daily Beast. "When she understood what that means, she was stunned, she had a panic attack, and then fell ill," Bacot attorney Nathalie Tomasini told reporters.

Bacot, whose bestselling memoir about her experiences was published in May, has admitted to fatally shooting Polette, who fathered her four children, in March 2016. During her trial, Bacot said she killed Polette partly because of her own abuse, which included being pimped out, but also because she feared Polette was grooming their 14-year-old daughter to become a prostitute as well. Prosecutor Eric Jallet said in court Friday that justice had to be served in the case, as "a criminal court stands for civilized values, foremost among which is the protection of life," reports the BBC. However, he acknowledged that Bacot was "very clearly" a victim as well, that she was not a likely risk to commit a crime like this again, and that her kids needed her. Tomasini, for her part, told CNN affiliate BFM that she was surprised at the prosecution's ask, as she'd been gearing up to ask for "leniency." Bacot was attended to by paramedics after fainting, and the verdict should be officially rendered later Friday. (More France stories.)

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