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In a perfect legal world, the case involving the violent death of Florida Black mother of four Ajike “AJ” Owens would be a simple one. Perhaps not immediately open and shut, but it wouldn’t appear to be such an uphill battle to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a white woman who is provably racist committed an intentional act of deadly violence that took a life and that race was at least part of her motivation.

According to Ocala police officers at the scene of the shooting, Susan Lorincz admitted to calling Owens’ Black children the N-word—the same children she physically attacked. We know that the arrest report stated Lorincz told deputies that she purchased two handguns one year ago after a previous confrontation with Ajike Owens. She also admitted to “possibly” researching stand-your-ground and self-defense laws in the recent past—almost as if she was planning to kill someone in “self-defense.” Finally, we know that Lorincz fatally shot Owens through a closed and presumably locked door. 

In a perfect legal world, Black folks wouldn’t be so uncertain of whether an admitted racist who attacked Black children and then shot her mother dead through a closed door when the mother went to confront her about it would walk free because the legal world that we live in decided it was reasonable to believe the shooter acted in self-defense. In the legal world we live in, none of the aforementioned facts constitute enough evidence to justify a second-degree murder charge, according to State Attorney William Gladson, let alone charge Lorincz with a hate crime.

During an interview with Good Morning America, Owens’ family demanded the Florida attorney general’s office and the DOJ to review Owens’ case and consider whether the shooting was, indeed, a hate crime.

From ABC News:

“It’s just awful, it’s a senseless murder. These children should never have to have gone through this,” Owens family attorney Anthony Thomas told “Good Morning America” on Saturday. “We feel as though a higher charge should have been brought other than manslaughter.”

Owens’ mother, Pamela Dias, who is now taking care of her four grandchildren, told “GMA” the children are traumatized and are asking her how long Lorincz will be in jail.

“Thirty years, that’s not sufficient, because this is a lifetime of trauma that these children are going to have to deal with,” Dias said, adding that Owens’ youngest child is only 3 years old and “the reality of it is that he may never remember his mother.”

Lorincz, 59, is currently charged with first-degree manslaughter, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. Even if one believes 30 years is enough, especially for someone who is almost 60, nothing about the American justice system indicates that we can count on Lorincz receiving the maximum sentence, or even a substantial sentence at all, provided she’s even found guilty in the first place. Honestly, despite all the aforementioned evidence of Lorincz’s racism and violent intent, many of us breathed a sigh of relief when police determined that her actions weren’t justified under Florida’s “stand your ground” law.

Perhaps the anxiety from all that uncertainty is why Ajike Owens’ family (and many of us across the country for that matter) are looking to see Lorincz be treated with the least amount of legal leniency that can be allowed. Maybe we’re just exhausted watching Black people die violently while their killers walk free because they received the benefit of the decidedly unreasonable doubt.


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