French Woman Who Killed Her Abusive Husband Pardoned

In 2014, Jacqueline Sauvage was found guilty in the murder of her husband, Norbert Marot. Sauvage shot Marot three times in the back with a hunting rifle in 2012. During her trial, it was revealed that she had endured decades of abuse at his hands, as did his children, whom he sexually assaulted. Sauvage was sentenced to ten years in prison.


The New York Times reports that on Wednesday, French President François Hollande gave Sauvage a full pardon after years of protests and petitions on her behalf. The NYT says that Sauvage killed her husband when he woke her from a nap by hitting her in the face, and demanded she make him dinner. She instead went to get the hunting rifle from the closet, than shot him where he was sitting drinking whiskey on the terrace. Sauvage married Marot at 18, and was estranged from her family, who disapproved of her husband. In the small village of La Selle-sur-le-Bied where they lived, she had no friends.

During her trials, two of her daughters testified that Marot sexually abused them as teenagers and physically abused their brother Pascal who, unbeknownst to Sauvage, died by suicide the day before Sauvage killed his father. While on the stand, she was repeatedly asked why she had waited so long to kill her husband and was unable to come up with an answer that satisfied the jury. Domestic abuse advocates and her lawyers believe that the court didn’t understand the toll abuse takes on an isolated person, and how the definition of “self-defense” might change with circumstance.

According to the Guardian, French law requires that for an act to qualify as self-defense, it must be “proportional and in direct response to an act of aggression.” She was questioned for her perceived passivity up until the night of Marot’s murder, but as one of her daughter’s testified, “We were afraid of him, he terrified us.”

In a statement on the case, the president’ office wrote, “The President of the Republic considered that Madame Sauvage’s place was no longer in prison, but with her family.”

Contributing Writer, writing my first book for the Dial Press called The Lonely Hunter, follow me on Twitter @alutkin


The Noble Renard

Thank god. From a legal perspective, I have no doubt that the French court reached the right decision; her life was certainly not imminently threatened and the law, for very good reasons, restricts the availability of self-defense as a protection to a murder charge. So yes, I think she was guilty of murder under the law.

But from a moral and ethical perspective, as well as from the perspective of justice, she certainly was not guilty of anything.