On this day, Aug. 15, in 1975, Joan Little was found not guilty in the murder of a white prison guard in North Carolina, believed to be the first woman in the United States to be acquitted using the defense that she used deadly force to resist sexual assault.

Little, 20, who been serving time in the Beaufort County jail for a break-in, said the jailer, 62, used an ice pick to force her to perform a sex act. Afterward, she used the ice pick to stab him repeatedly.

Little became a cause celebre of the civil rights and feminist movements.

After her acquittal, Little returned to jail to finish serving time for the break-in.

She escaped prison in 1977, a month short of possible parole, and had to serve two more years.

-- Scott McCabe