Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Lesbian Lovers Violent Attack

Toni Brown is paralyzed from her neck down, the result of a jealous ex-lover's bullet that severed her spine five months ago. She had just left work at a Safeway store in Northwest Washington when she was hit in the neck and left for dead, prosecutors said.

The shot was fired by Brown's former girlfriend, Raina L. Johnson, who surprised her on the street after Brown, 32, had obtained a civil protection order that was supposed to keep Johnson at a distance. Witnesses said they heard Johnson shout at Brown, "I said I was going to get you," before she hurled a crude epithet and ran away. Brown later told prosecutors how she had lain on the sidewalk watching her blood "pour out of me like water."

Johnson, 35, was sentenced yesterday to a 28-year prison term on a charge of assault with intent to kill, 12 years more than the maximum outlined in the voluntary sentencing guidelines for the charge.

In announcing the sentence, D.C. Superior Court Judge Harold L. Cushenberry Jr. called the shooting an "extraordinarily brutal, callous and despicable crime" and added that Johnson had to be punished severely. Prosecutor Opher Shweiki considered the shooting "an intended execution" and had asked Cushenberry to sentence Johnson as if Brown had been killed.

"'If anything good can come out of this tragedy, it is that it woke people up that extreme violence between women is possible,' said Morgan Lynn, a staff attorney with Women Empowered Against Violence, or WEAVE, a District-based advocacy group. 'There are a lot of myths in the lesbian community that women don't hurt each other.'

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