It’s no secret that the gap between men and women’s prison sentences is larger than the gap between blacks and whites, but it is still surprising when the difference is on full display.
Billie Jo Soyster, 23, stabbed her boyfriend, 38-year-old David Murray, to death with a shard of glass after he allegedly called her names while the two were arguing, the Herald & Review reported. Soyster claimed Murray attacked her and that she stabbed him once in the chest with the shard of glass after he called her names.
“Assistant Macon County State’s Attorney Lindsay Shelton had asked for Soyster to get the maximum 14-year sentence the law allowed. She said Soyster had no previous convictions but had a history of drug abuse and her son had been taken away by the state because of her problems,” the Review reported. “She also reminded the judge that Soyster had tried to mislead police and ‘hide what really happened’ during the early stages of the investigation into Murray’s killing.”
Soyster pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter. As part of the plea agreement, three alternate counts of murder were dropped and Soyster was sentenced to four years in prison, though she has been credited with the 678 days she spent in Macon County jail prior to her case being heard.
More from the Review:
Before Geisler handed down the sentence, he took the time to read victim impact statements and hear directly from Murray’s mother, Vickie Staley, and his sister, Tanya Sachan. They read their statements and, along with several other family members, appeared in court wearing black T-shirts emblazoned with white lettering that read: “In Loving Memory of David ‘Shorty’ Murray.”
Staley, 59, fought through tears as she said no parent should have to endure the emotional agony of burying a child, but she had suffered that pain because of Soyster.
Sachan said her family had been devastated by Soyster’s act of violence. “You took my one and only brother, you took my parents’ one and only son, you took my kids’ uncle from them whom they love very much,” added Sachan, 35.
While involuntary manslaughter has a lower punishment than other murder charges, it is rare for a man to get such a deal in a similar situation. Men who have killed their girlfriends have been charged with murder instead of involuntary manslaughter, receiving decades in prison instead of the fewer than four Soyster will serve.
Just a month earlier, in Portland, Maine, a 62-year-old man who strangled his 59-year-old girlfriend during an argument received 28 years in prison. A man who stabbed his girlfriend in Buffalo, New York, received 20 years to life in prison.
Obviously, this doesn’t mean that these men should have received lighter sentences, and different states have different laws and sentences, but this case is yet another example of female privilege in the justice system.
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