A mother of four is on trial in France for the murder of her husband after decades of sexual, physical and psychological abuse from her teenage years.
The case has garnered wide attention and support for her, amid a nationwide calculation with long-standing taboos around domestic violence.
Valérie Bacot, 40, admitted to having shot Daniel Polette in 2016. She faces life imprisonment for murder.
Polette was first her stepfather before becoming her husband and forcing her into prostitution.
A verdict is expected Friday at the courthouse in Chalon-sur-Saône, in central France.
The prosecutor requested one year in prison and a four-year suspended sentence, meaning Bacot could be released from the courthouse for free as she has already served a preventive custody sentence.
The prosecutor said he did not see her as a danger to society.
Bacot fainted upon hearing the prosecutor’s requests on Friday morning, resulting in a stay of the trial until noon.
Her story moved activists against domestic violence, with more than 680,000 petitioners petitioning for her release.
“I had to put an end to it,” wrote Bacot, 40, in a book published last month titled “Everyone Knew”, adding: “I was scared, all the time.”
The trial opened on Monday.
Bacot was 12 when Polette, 25 years his senior, raped her for the first time.
He was sent to jail, but after his release he returned and resumed serial rape.
“He told my mom he wouldn’t do it again. But he did, ”she told the court.
At 17, Bacot got pregnant, was kicked out of the house by his alcoholic mother, and went to live with Polette.
“I wanted to keep my child. I had no one. Where can I go? », She declared in court.
Polette, also a heavy drinker, grew increasingly violent, attacking her with a hammer at one point.
“At first he slapped me, later it became kicking, then punching, then choking,” she said, describing her life as “extreme hell”.
Polette ordered her to prostitute herself for truck drivers, in the back of a Peugeot minivan, and gave her instructions via an earpiece which he forced her to wear to make sure she complied with customer requirements he billed between 20 and 50 years. euros ($ 24 – $ 59).
Investigators established that Polette threatened to kill her if she refused, repeatedly pointing a gun at her.
When Polette began asking their 14-year-old daughter, Karline, about her burgeoning sexuality, Bacot said she decided “it had to stop”.
In March 2016, after Polette ordered Bacot to undergo further sexual humiliation by a client, she used the gun he kept in the car to kill him with a single bullet in the back of his neck while he was away. the driver’s seat.
Bacot said she wanted to make sure her daughter did not suffer the same fate as her.
“I wanted to save her,” she said.
The circumstances of the shooting exclude any hypothesis of self-defense.
Bacot hid Polette’s body in a forest with the help of two of his four children. In October 2017, she was arrested, confessed and a year later released on bail.
She made no comment upon arriving at the courthouse on Monday, a lean figure with a ponytail and a black jacket who looked intimidated by the crowd of reporters.
Her lawyers said ahead of the trial that “the extreme violence she suffered for 25 years and the fear that her daughter would be next” prompted her to kill Polette.
The same lawyers, Janine Bonaggiunta and Nathalie Tomasini, had already defended Jacqueline Sauvage, a Frenchwoman who had been sentenced to 10 years in prison for killing her violent husband but had obtained a presidential pardon in 2016 after becoming a symbol of the fight against violence against women.
“These women who are victims of violence have no protection. Justice is still too slow, not reactive enough and too lenient towards the perpetrators who can continue to exercise their violent power, “Bonaggiunta told AFP news agency.
“This is precisely what can drive a desperate woman to kill in order to survive,” she said.
Bacot was “certain that she needed to commit this act to protect her children,” a court assessment revealed.