Conviction Thrown Out For Woman Who Said She Shot Husband In Self-Defense
Former pharmacist Diana Lalchan was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of her husband, but after serving nearly half her sentence, her conviction was overturned.
Shortly after midnight on March 28, 2013, Diana Lalchan called the police and explained that she had shot and killed her husband of four years, Christopher Lalchan. When police arrived at their home in Washington, D.C., they found him lying face down in the living room.
The 27-year-old Walter Reed pharmacist told police that she was the victim of domestic abuse and that she shot her husband in self-defense. However, authorities said there were no previous reports of domestic violence between the couple.
On March 28, 2019, Diana Lalchan was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter while armed in the death of her husband. Her defense attorneys argued that she only shot him because she was living in fear of her life, and they cited evidence that he had been violent and abusive, according to WTOP. Among other things, they said that Christopher smashed Diana’s computer, shoved her, slapped her, and even strangled her in fits of rage on several different occasions.
During Diana’s trial that lasted almost a month, she sobbed on the witness stand and said that her husband had been abusive and controlling. Friends of hers also testified that they had seen bruising and heard her speak about the abusive situation.
Now, after Diana has served more than three years of a 7.5-year sentence in federal prison, her conviction has been overturned, and she has been freed. The D.C. Court of Appeals determined that “the judge overseeing her trial failed to adequately instruct jurors on the lingering effects of a particular legal defense once referred to as battered wife syndrome,” according to The Washington Post.
The appeals court granted her a new trial, but that won’t need to happen. Prosecutors dismissed all charges against her in early November 2022.
“We are hopeful that the Court’s clarification of the District’s self-defense laws will help reduce the discrimination against people suffering from intimate-partner violence who are forced to defend themselves against their partners,” Janet Mitchell, special counsel for the District’s Public Defender Service, stated.
Christopher Lalchan’s family is not pleased that Diana’s conviction was thrown out, reported The Washington Post. Jeremy Karmel, one of his cousins said, “She shot him in the back of his head. And between 2013 and now, she only spent three years in prison for that. That is not justice. And now she lives her life, but Chris isn’t so fortunate.”
If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic violence or abuse from a romantic partner, you can visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline website, call 1.800.799.SAFE, or text START to 88788 for help. Advocates are available 24/7 to help callers talk through their situation and connect them with local resources. There is no charge to reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline.