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The Maria Teresa Macias Case

"If I die..." En Espanol

"If I die, I don't want other women to suffer what I am suffering. I want them to be listened to."
Maria Teresa Macias

Maria Teresa MaciasWhen we first met Teresa Macias' mother, Sara Rubio Hernandez, Sarah was still in the hospital recovering from the gunshot wounds she herself had received when her daughter was murdered. Seven months before, Sara had left her home in the remote mountainside ranch in Mexico to come to the United States to try and help her daughter escape the domestic violence in which Teresa was trapped. On April 15, 1996, when Sara and Teresa went to a house cleaning job at an upscale Sonoma home, Teresa's husband, Avelino, was laying in wait. Avelino shot and killed Teresa, and then fired two shots into his mother-in-law, Sarah.

There was so much pain in the hospital room it seemed like even the air could cry. Still, Sara wanted to talk. In fragments between silence and tears, she told us (Marie De Santis and Tanya Brannan) about the despair of Teresa's last weeks. After more than a year of fruitless struggle trying to get help from the Sheriff, Sara said, a sense of doom had come over her daughter.

Sara told us Teresa's words to her. "If I die," Teresa had told her mother, "I don't want other women to suffer what I have suffered. I want them to be listened to." Sara told us she didn't want her daughter's words or her struggle to be in vain. Sara asked us to investigate, and tell Teresa's story.

As the weeks and months went by, no matter how painful the events we uncovered in our investigation, Sara wanted us to lay them before the public in hopes of fulfilling her daughters wish, and in hopes of changing the way police respond to violence against women.

When we tried to answer Sara's questions as to how this could ever happen, we explained that police frequently ignore women's pleas for help with domestic violence. And we explained that women here didn't have a legal right to police protection, and that police had no legal obligation act. When we told Sara that trying to change things through a civil rights lawsuit would be a long, agonizing process, and would probably fail, Sara wanted to go ahead anyway.

Four very difficult years later for Sara, her daughter's case has now set a powerful new precedent in the United States for women's constitutional rights to police protection. The decision won't affect the rights of women in Mexico. Sara Rubio Hernandez knew that too.

Please help us express our deep gratitude to Sara Rubio Hernandez for her selfless, unequaled gift to American women. You can write to Sara care of Women's Justice Center, 250 Sebastopol Rd, Santa Rosa, CA 95407.


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