A Montana woman who shot and killed her ex-husband after she claimed he tried to rape her has had the murder charges against her dropped, putting a definitive end to a roughly two-decade cycle of abuse she suffered at his hands.
A district judge in Sanders County dismissed all charges against Rachel Bellesen, 38, with prejudice on Tuesday, the Daily Beast reported.
Lance Jasper, a pro-bono attorney for Bellesen said Judge Amy Eddy cited an ‘ethical obligation’ in her decision. Her order means the mother-of-two cannot be charged again for the same crime.
On the evening of October 8, Bellesen’s ex-husband and the father of her children, Jacob Glace, used threats against their son to lure her to a local swimming pool, where she said he tried to rape her twice before she shot him.
Bellesen, who now works as coordinator at a shelter for domestic violence victims, had gone to police with her current husband, Cory Bellesen, shortly after to report the shooting, and went to a hospital to have her injuries documented.
She was charged with murder the next day.
Jasper presented her entire defense to prosecutors before trial under the condition that they ask for the charges to be dropped with prejudice upon reviewing it.
Instead, in April they filed to have the charges dropped without prejudice, saying they would wait for forensic test results before deciding whether to charge Bellesen again for the killing.
Advocates at the Abbie Shelter, where Bellesen works, argued that she should not continue to have the threat of prosecution hang over her. Judge Eddy, it would seem, agreed.
A judge ordered the charges against Rachel Bellesen, who shot her former husband to death after he attempted to rape her, dropped with prejudice—a highly unusual move https://t.co/eWTfvifD9J— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) May 26, 2021
After the judge’s decision, Bellesen issued a statement, comparing the state’s actions to those of her ex-husband’s, saying they were, ‘eerily similar to when an abuser attacks you—and then tries to serve a sad excuse of apology with a bouquet of flowers the next morning, expecting you to just take them in gratitude, say nothing, and go on about your day like nothing happened.’