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Blind Plea

Lemonada Media

In 2017, Deven Grey, a young mother, shot and killed her abusive partner in a remote trailer in rural Shelby County, Alabama. She claimed self-defense and filed a Stand Your Ground claim.

Instead of freedom, she was handed a “blind plea” – an option to take an unknown sentence in exchange for pleading guilty. As a Black woman who shot and killed a white man in Alabama, she did the only thing she could: She took the plea. Deven’s sentence became the final link in a chain of deceit, haunted land, generational trauma, false identity, coercive control, and a broken justice system.

Hosted by Emmy Award-winning journalist Liz Flock, Blind Plea asks: Who do we believe, and why? And in America, who has the right to self defense and a fair trial?

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Our Editor's Take

How much abuse can someone take before they lose control? In the case of Deven Grey, she felt killing an abusive boyfriend was the only way out. The Blind Plea podcast examines the harrowing case in fascinating detail. Host Liz Flock brings her journalistic expertise to this legal battle.

After years of living with John Henry Vance's violent abuse, Grey had to put a stop to it. She had tried to call the police before, but Vance would respond with physical violence. In 2017, 25-year-old Grey saw no option but to defend herself.

In America, self-defense is a common legal defense in murder investigations. But for a Black woman charged with murdering a white man in Alabama, it's not that simple. Blind Plea investigates how a woman ended up in prison for defending herself. The intersection of racial bias, domestic abuse, and a flawed legal system failed her. However, some details of the case have cast doubt on Grey's alleged lack of culpability.

Flock who narrates Blind Plea, is an accomplished author and reporter. Publications like the New York Times, the Guardian, and PBS NewsHour have featured her work. Flock has spoken with hundreds of women incarcerated for defending themselves against abuse. With this podcast, she reveals that, in most cases, these women fear for their lives.

This podcast features interviews with the people closest to Grey and Vance. The show follows her life from the beginning of the relationship to her legal case. Throughout, she suffered fear, manipulation, and unrelenting violence. Despite Vance's abuse, Grey had little choice but to accept a guilty plea. In the end, she received a sentence of 15 years in prison.

Blind Plea explores conventional notions of victimhood. The podcast questions what a real fair trial is. It also analyzes the intricate dynamics that govern abusive relationships.

The podcast premiered in April 2023. Episodes for this short-form podcast are about 30-45 minutes long.

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Episodes

Haunted Land
May 17 2023
Haunted Land
Episode one: When John brought his girlfriend Deven to his family property in Calera, Alabama, Deven became the latest in a decades-long line of women to be beaten and broken down on that same land. In December 2017, after a violent evening and years of abuse, Deven shot and killed John. Then, she called 911 to turn herself in.  Resources: If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, use a safe computer and contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at www.thehotline.org or call 1-800-799-7233. You can also search for a local domestic violence shelter at www.domesticshelters.org/.If you have experienced sexual assault and need support, visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) at www.rainn.org or call 1-800-656-HOPEHave questions about consent? Take a look at this guide from RAINN at www.rainn.org/articles/what-is-consent Learn more about criminalized survival https://survivedandpunished.org/  This series is created with Evoke Media, a woman-founded company devoted to harnessing the power of storytelling to drive social change. To learn more, visit weareevokemedia.com. This series is presented by Marguerite Casey Foundation. MCF supports leaders who work to shift the balance of power in their communities toward working people and families, and who have the vision and capacity for building a truly representative economy. Learn more at caseygrants.org or visit on social media @caseygrants. Follow host Liz Flock on Twitter @lizflock. For more stories of women and self-defense, check out her book “The Furies” from Harper Books, available for pre-order now. https://www.harpercollins.com/products/the-furies-elizabeth-flock Interested in bonus content and behind the scenes material? Subscribe to Lemonada Premium right now in the Apple Podcasts app by clicking on our podcast logo and the "subscribe” button. Click this link for a list of current sponsors and discount codes for this and all other Lemonada series: lemonadamedia.com/sponsors.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Someone is Lying
May 17 2023
Someone is Lying
Episode two: No one disputes that Deven shot and killed John. But beyond that, the stories of what happened that night didn’t align. Someone was lying. The question is who: was it Deven, John or… the other woman John was dating? Resources: If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, use a safe computer and contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at www.thehotline.org or call 1-800-799-7233. You can also search for a local domestic violence shelter at www.domesticshelters.org/.If you have experienced sexual assault and need support, visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) at www.rainn.org or call 1-800-656-HOPEHave questions about consent? Take a look at this guide from RAINN at www.rainn.org/articles/what-is-consent Learn more about criminalized survival at https://survivedandpunished.org/  This series is created with Evoke Media, a woman-founded company devoted to harnessing the power of storytelling to drive social change. To learn more, visit weareevokemedia.com. This series is presented by Marguerite Casey Foundation. MCF supports leaders who work to shift the balance of power in their communities toward working people and families, and who have the vision and capacity for building a truly representative economy. Learn more at caseygrants.org or visit on social media @caseygrants. Follow host Liz Flock on Twitter @lizflock. For more stories of women and self-defense, check out her book “The Furies” from Harper Books, available for pre-order now. https://www.harpercollins.com/products/the-furies-elizabeth-flock Interested in bonus content and behind the scenes material? Subscribe to Lemonada Premium right now in the Apple Podcasts app by clicking on our podcast logo and the "subscribe” button. Click this link for a list of current sponsors and discount codes for this and all other Lemonada series: lemonadamedia.com/sponsors.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
BONUS: Deven’s Arrest
May 20 2023
BONUS: Deven’s Arrest
When Deven arrived at the police station for an interrogation, she’d already endured a night of unimaginable abuse, pain and sleep deprivation. Still, she chose to cooperate with detectives. In this bonus episode, Deven waives her Miranda rights and shares unheard details of the events leading up to John’s death.  For more bonus content like this, subscribe to Lemonada’s Apple premium channel. Resources: If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, use a safe computer and contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at www.thehotline.org or call 1-800-799-7233. You can also search for a local domestic violence shelter at www.domesticshelters.org/.If you have experienced sexual assault and need support, visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) at www.rainn.org or call 1-800-656-HOPEHave questions about consent? Take a look at this guide from RAINN at www.rainn.org/articles/what-is-consent Learn more about criminalized survival at https://survivedandpunished.org/  This series is created with Evoke Media, a woman-founded company devoted to harnessing the power of storytelling to drive social change. This series is presented by Marguerite Casey Foundation. MCF supports leaders who work to shift the balance of power in their communities toward working people and families, and who have the vision and capacity for building a truly representative economy. Learn more at caseygrants.org or visit on social media @caseygrants. Follow host Liz Flock on Twitter @lizflock. For more stories of women and self-defense, check out her book “The Furies” from Harper Books, available for pre-order now. https://www.harpercollins.com/products/the-furies-elizabeth-flock Interested in bonus content and behind the scenes material? Subscribe to Lemonada Premium right now in the Apple Podcasts app by clicking on our podcast logo and the "subscribe” button. Click this link for a list of current sponsors and discount codes for this and all other Lemonada series: lemonadamedia.com/sponsors.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Deven is Missing
May 24 2023
Deven is Missing
Episode three: When Deven graduated from high school in Baltimore, she was one of the top students in her class. She got a scholarship to attend Marymount University, and it seemed like she had a bright future ahead of her. But then, she left upstate New York with John and completely disappeared. Resources: If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, use a safe computer and contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at www.thehotline.org or call 1-800-799-7233. You can also search for a local domestic violence shelter at www.domesticshelters.org/.If you have experienced sexual assault and need support, visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) at www.rainn.org or call 1-800-656-HOPEHave questions about consent? Take a look at this guide from RAINN at www.rainn.org/articles/what-is-consent Learn more about criminalized survival https://survivedandpunished.org/  This series is created with Evoke Media, a woman-founded company devoted to harnessing the power of storytelling to drive social change. This series is presented by Marguerite Casey Foundation. MCF supports leaders who work to shift the balance of power in their communities toward working people and families, and who have the vision and capacity for building a truly representative economy. Learn more at caseygrants.org or visit on social media @caseygrants. Follow host Liz Flock on Twitter @lizflock. For more stories of women and self-defense, check out her book “The Furies” from Harper Books, available for pre-order now. https://www.harpercollins.com/products/the-furies-elizabeth-flock Interested in bonus content and behind the scenes material? Subscribe to Lemonada Premium right now in the Apple Podcasts app by clicking on our podcast logo and the "subscribe” button. Click this link for a list of current sponsors and discount codes for this and all other Lemonada series: lemonadamedia.com/sponsors.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
John, Barry, J
May 31 2023
John, Barry, J
Episode four: In Calera, John was known as J the Phone Guy. But it was just the latest in a web of personas. After years of run-ins with the law, John landed back in Alabama, living next to a father he barely knew.  Resources: If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, use a safe computer and contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at www.thehotline.org or call 1-800-799-7233. You can also search for a local domestic violence shelter at www.domesticshelters.org/.If you have experienced sexual assault and need support, visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) at www.rainn.org or call 1-800-656-HOPEHave questions about consent? Take a look at this guide from RAINN at www.rainn.org/articles/what-is-consent Learn more about criminalized survival https://survivedandpunished.org/  This series is created with Evoke Media, a woman-founded company devoted to harnessing the power of storytelling to drive social change. This series is presented by Marguerite Casey Foundation. MCF supports leaders who work to shift the balance of power in their communities toward working people and families, and who have the vision and capacity for building a truly representative economy. Learn more at caseygrants.org or visit on social media @caseygrants. Follow host Liz Flock on Twitter @lizflock. For more stories of women and self-defense, check out her book “The Furies” from Harper Books, available for pre-order now. https://www.harpercollins.com/products/the-furies-elizabeth-flock Interested in bonus content and behind the scenes material? Subscribe to Lemonada Premium right now in the Apple Podcasts app by clicking on our podcast logo and the "subscribe” button. Click this link for a list of current sponsors and discount codes for this and all other Lemonada series: lemonadamedia.com/sponsors.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
The Other Woman
Jun 7 2023
The Other Woman
Episode 5: Deven wasn’t the only woman John was dating. He had another girlfriend, too: Alexis. Alexis’ version of events became critically important to Deven’s criminal case – and it was the one the police were more interested in believing.  Resources: If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, use a safe computer and contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at www.thehotline.org or call 1-800-799-7233. You can also search for a local domestic violence shelter at www.domesticshelters.org/.If you have experienced sexual assault and need support, visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) at www.rainn.org or call 1-800-656-HOPEHave questions about consent? Take a look at this guide from RAINN at www.rainn.org/articles/what-is-consent Learn more about criminalized survival https://survivedandpunished.org/  This series is created with Evoke Media, a woman-founded company devoted to harnessing the power of storytelling to drive social change. This series is presented by Marguerite Casey Foundation. MCF supports leaders who work to shift the balance of power in their communities toward working people and families, and who have the vision and capacity for building a truly representative economy. Learn more at caseygrants.org or visit on social media @caseygrants. Follow host Liz Flock on Twitter @lizflock. For more stories of women and self-defense, check out her book “The Furies” from Harper Books, available for pre-order now. https://www.harpercollins.com/products/the-furies-elizabeth-flock Interested in bonus content and behind the scenes material? Subscribe to Lemonada Premium right now in the Apple Podcasts app by clicking on our podcast logo and the "subscribe” button. Click this link for a list of current sponsors and discount codes for this and all other Lemonada series: lemonadamedia.com/sponsors.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Deven’s Defense
Jun 14 2023
Deven’s Defense
Episode 6: Deven was afraid for her life the night she shot John, but the court denied her ability to use Alabama’s Stand Your Ground Law in her defense. Deven is then faced with the reality of a jury trial, limited defense options and more questions than answers.  Resources: If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, use a safe computer and contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at www.thehotline.org or call 1-800-799-7233. You can also search for a local domestic violence shelter at www.domesticshelters.org/. If you have experienced sexual assault and need support, visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) at www.rainn.org or call 1-800-656-HOPE Have questions about consent? Take a look at this guide from RAINN at www.rainn.org/articles/what-is-consent  Learn more about criminalized survival https://survivedandpunished.org/  This series is created with Evoke Media, a woman-founded company devoted to harnessing the power of storytelling to drive social change. https://weareevokemedia.com  This series is presented by Marguerite Casey Foundation. MCF supports leaders who work to shift the balance of power in their communities toward working people and families, and who have the vision and capacity for building a truly representative economy. Learn more at caseygrants.org or visit on social media @caseygrants. Follow host Liz Flock on Twitter @lizflock. For more stories of women and self-defense, check out her book “The Furies” from Harper Books, available for pre-order now. https://www.harpercollins.com/products/the-furies-elizabeth-flock Interested in bonus content and behind the scenes material? Subscribe to Lemonada Premium right now in the Apple Podcasts app by clicking on our podcast logo and the "subscribe” button. Click this link for a list of current sponsors and discount codes for this and all other Lemonada series: lemonadamedia.com/sponsors.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
The Blind Plea
Jun 21 2023
The Blind Plea
Episode 7: With her Stand Your Ground claim denied, Deven was stuck in Shelby County Jail awaiting trial. She was up against near impossible odds. From what everyone told her, it was incredibly difficult for a Black woman to get acquitted in Shelby County. So she was faced with an impossible choice: whether or not to gamble with her life and take a blind plea. Resources: If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, use a safe computer and contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at www.thehotline.org or call 1-800-799-7233. You can also search for a local domestic violence shelter at www.domesticshelters.org/.If you have experienced sexual assault and need support, visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) at www.rainn.org or call 1-800-656-HOPEHave questions about consent? Take a look at this guide from RAINN at www.rainn.org/articles/what-is-consent Learn more about criminalized survival https://survivedandpunished.org/  This series is created with Evoke Media, a woman-founded company devoted to harnessing the power of storytelling to drive social change. https://weareevokemedia.com  This series is presented by Marguerite Casey Foundation. MCF supports leaders who work to shift the balance of power in their communities toward working people and families, and who have the vision and capacity for building a truly representative economy. Learn more at caseygrants.org or visit on social media @caseygrants. Follow host Liz Flock on Twitter @lizflock. For more stories of women and self-defense, check out her book “The Furies” from Harper Books, available for pre-order now. https://www.harpercollins.com/products/the-furies-elizabeth-flock Interested in bonus content and behind the scenes material? Subscribe to Lemonada Premium right now in the Apple Podcasts app by clicking on our podcast logo and the "subscribe” button. Click this link for a list of current sponsors and discount codes for this and all other Lemonada series: lemonadamedia.com/sponsors.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
The Parole Hearing
Jun 28 2023
The Parole Hearing
Episode 8: After she was convicted, Deven was sent to Julia Tutwiler Prison in Wetumpka, Alabama — one of the most infamous lockups in the county. Alabama’s prison system is overcrowded and understaffed with a long history of human rights abuses. But there was a light at the end of the tunnel: the possibility of parole.  Resources: If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, use a safe computer and contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at www.thehotline.org or call 1-800-799-7233. You can also search for a local domestic violence shelter at www.domesticshelters.org/.If you have experienced sexual assault and need support, visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) at www.rainn.org or call 1-800-656-HOPEHave questions about consent? Take a look at this guide from RAINN at www.rainn.org/articles/what-is-consent Learn more about criminalized survival https://survivedandpunished.org/ Learn more about the grassroots organization behind the Alabama prison strike https://bothsidesofthewall.com/Read more about the Alabama prison strike https://www.themarshallproject.org/2022/10/06/alabama-said-prison-strike-was-under-control-footage-shows-system-in-deadly-disarray  This series is created with Evoke Media, a woman-founded company devoted to harnessing the power of storytelling to drive social change. https://weareevokemedia.com  This series is presented by Marguerite Casey Foundation. MCF supports leaders who work to shift the balance of power in their communities toward working people and families, and who have the vision and capacity for building a truly representative economy. Learn more at caseygrants.org or visit on social media @caseygrants. Follow host Liz Flock on Twitter @lizflock. For more stories of women and self-defense, check out her book “The Furies” from Harper Books, available for pre-order now. https://www.harpercollins.com/products/the-furies-elizabeth-flock Interested in bonus content and behind the scenes material? Subscribe to Lemonada Premium right now in the Apple Podcasts app by clicking on our podcast logo and the "subscribe” button. Click this link for a list of current sponsors and discount codes for this and all other Lemonada series: lemonadamedia.com/sponsors.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
An End In Sight
Jul 5 2023
An End In Sight
Episode 9: In October 2022, Deven was given an eight-hour notice that she would be leaving Tutwiler. She was transferred to a temporary facility to prepare for her upcoming release. Five years after John’s death, she's finally able to start looking towards the future – but first, she needs to reckon with the ghosts of her past. Resources: If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, use a safe computer and contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at www.thehotline.org or call 1-800-799-7233. You can also search for a local domestic violence shelter at www.domesticshelters.org/.If you have experienced sexual assault and need support, visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) at www.rainn.org or call 1-800-656-HOPEHave questions about consent? Take a look at this guide from RAINN at www.rainn.org/articles/what-is-consent Learn more about criminalized survival https://survivedandpunished.org/  This series is created with Evoke Media, a woman-founded company devoted to harnessing the power of storytelling to drive social change. https://weareevokemedia.com  This series is presented by Marguerite Casey Foundation. MCF supports leaders who work to shift the balance of power in their communities toward working people and families, and who have the vision and capacity for building a truly representative economy. Learn more at caseygrants.org or visit on social media @caseygrants. Follow host Liz Flock on Twitter @lizflock. For more stories of women and self-defense, check out her book “The Furies” from Harper Books, available for pre-order now. https://www.harpercollins.com/products/the-furies-elizabeth-flock Interested in bonus content and behind the scenes material? Subscribe to Lemonada Premium right now in the Apple Podcasts app by clicking on our podcast logo and the "subscribe” button. Click this link for a list of current sponsors and discount codes for this and all other Lemonada series: lemonadamedia.com/sponsors.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Stuck in the System
Jul 12 2023
Stuck in the System
Episode 10: After five long years behind bars, the day has finally come for Deven to leave prison. But hours before she’s set to go home, a breakdown in the process throws Deven’s release into jeopardy, which leaves her and her family scrambling for answers in the tangled bureaucracy of the Alabama prison system.  Resources: If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, use a safe computer and contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at www.thehotline.org or call 1-800-799-7233. You can also search for a local domestic violence shelter at www.domesticshelters.org/.If you have experienced sexual assault and need support, visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) at www.rainn.org or call 1-800-656-HOPEHave questions about consent? Take a look at this guide from RAINN at www.rainn.org/articles/what-is-consent Learn more about criminalized survival https://survivedandpunished.org/   This series is created with Evoke Media, a woman-founded company devoted to harnessing the power of storytelling to drive social change. https://weareevokemedia.com  This series is presented by Marguerite Casey Foundation. MCF supports leaders who work to shift the balance of power in their communities toward working people and families, and who have the vision and capacity for building a truly representative economy. Learn more at caseygrants.org or visit on social media @caseygrants. Follow host Liz Flock on Twitter @lizflock. For more stories of women and self-defense, check out her book “The Furies” from Harper Books, available for pre-order now. https://www.harpercollins.com/products/the-furies-elizabeth-flock Interested in bonus content and behind the scenes material? Subscribe to Lemonada Premium right now in the Apple Podcasts app by clicking on our podcast logo and the "subscribe” button. Click this link for a list of current sponsors and discount codes for this and all other Lemonada series: lemonadamedia.com/sponsors.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Life On The Outside
Jul 19 2023
Life On The Outside
Episode 11: Getting out of prison isn’t easy. In the two months since her release, Deven’s been busy: getting IDs, applying for jobs and taking care of her daughter. We caught up with her a few weeks after she left Alabama to see how things were going and what she hopes people will take away from her story. Resources: If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, use a safe computer and contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at www.thehotline.org or call 1-800-799-7233. You can also search for a local domestic violence shelter at www.domesticshelters.org/.If you have experienced sexual assault and need support, visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) at www.rainn.org or call 1-800-656-HOPEHave questions about consent? Take a look at this guide from RAINN at www.rainn.org/articles/what-is-consent Learn more about criminalized survival https://survivedandpunished.org/   This series is created with Evoke Media, a woman-founded company devoted to harnessing the power of storytelling to drive social change. https://weareevokemedia.com  This series is presented by Marguerite Casey Foundation. MCF supports leaders who work to shift the balance of power in their communities toward working people and families, and who have the vision and capacity for building a truly representative economy. Learn more at caseygrants.org or visit on social media @caseygrants. Follow host Liz Flock on Twitter @lizflock. For more stories of women and self-defense, check out her book “The Furies” from Harper Books, available for pre-order now. https://www.harpercollins.com/products/the-furies-elizabeth-flock Interested in bonus content and behind the scenes material? Subscribe to Lemonada Premium right now in the Apple Podcasts app by clicking on our podcast logo and the "subscribe” button. Click this link for a list of current sponsors and discount codes for this and all other Lemonada series: lemonadamedia.com/sponsors.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Bonus: Liz Wrote a Book!
5d ago
Bonus: Liz Wrote a Book!
Today we’re flipping the table and interviewing our host Liz Flock. Gloria Rivieria (host of The Defenders) gets an update about Deven and chats with Liz about her new book “The Furies: Women, Vengeance and Justice,” which centers around three women across the world who decided to fight back.    Purchase your copy of  “The Furies” https://www.harpercollins.com/products/the-furies-elizabeth-flock?variant=41038092337186 If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, use a safe computer and contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at www.thehotline.org or call 1-800-799-7233. You can also search for a local domestic violence shelter at www.domesticshelters.org/. If you have experienced sexual assault and need support, visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) at www.rainn.org or call 1-800-656-HOPE Have questions about consent? Take a look at this guide from RAINN at www.rainn.org/articles/what-is-consent  Learn more about criminalized survival at https://survivedandpunished.org/  This series is created with Evoke Media, a woman-founded company devoted to harnessing the power of storytelling to drive social change. This series is presented by Marguerite Casey Foundation. MCF supports leaders who work to shift the balance of power in their communities toward working people and families, and who have the vision and capacity for building a truly representative economy. Learn more at caseygrants.org or visit on social media @caseygrants. Follow host Liz Flock on Twitter @lizflock Interested in bonus content and behind the scenes material? Subscribe to Lemonada Premium right now in the Apple Podcasts app by clicking on our podcast logo and the "subscribe” button. Click this link for a list of current sponsors and discount codes for this and all other Lemonada series: lemonadamedia.com/sponsors.See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.