OXNARD (CBSLA.com) — A southland family is fighting for justice in a case that made international headlines.
The victim, Dave Laut — an Olympic athlete (he won the bronze in the shot put in the 1984 games) was shot to death by his own wife in 2009.
The wife’s family members are coming to her defense and speaking out following her being found guilty of murder last month. CBS2’s Serene Branson reports the family is breaking their silence in their first TV interview.
It’s a story that is Only On 2.
Jane Laut said she was the victim of domestic violence for years and only shot her husband because she was protecting her son from abuse.
“We are just heartbroken over this injustice,” says Beth Baumer, niece of the convicted murderer.
Baumer and her sister, Emily Penza, say they are on a mission.
Laut was convicted last month of murdering her husband inside their Oxnard home. She shot him several times in the head.
They both say they do not understand how a jury could convict their aunt and possibly sentence her to prison for upwards of 50 years. They say her defense argued she was protecting her son and that she was the victim of domestic violence — for decades.
“When I saw bruises, and she said she fell from volleyball I believed her,” said Penza. “It hurts that much more that we didn’t pry a little bit more.”
The sisters have launched a grassroots campaign — including a petition on Change.org called Justice For Jane.
They’ve also set up a Facebook page, dedicated to Team Jane.
“We just can’t bear to let this be the reality that’s happening right now, in this world. People shouldn’t suffer in silence and shame,” says Baumer.
Dave Laut’s family has maintained that he was not an abusive husband and were pleased with the verdict.
The prosecutor declined an interview but the lead police investigator weighed in with a statement:
Mike Young wrote,”Ms. Laut was specifically asked about domestic violence in her home, and she denied it was taking place. The question I would pose is, isn’t murder the ultimate form of domestic violence? Ms. Laut was convicted by a jury of her peers of committing just this.”
“We can’t swallow this, it doesn’t sit right,” said Baumer.
The sisters say their aunt was afraid to say anything — and now they’re speaking for her.
“We want people — not just for Jane — but for other people to change the way they look at these types of cases. We want to use her story as an example to help other people get out,” says Penza.
Laut’s sentencing is set for next month but might be continued to the first week of June.
For more information about domestic violence, click here.