Netflix/Crime+Investigation UK’s I Am a Killer: Cavona Flenoy
The previous episode of I Am a Killer looked at Charles “Billy” Armentrout’s journey toward accepting guilt for his most infamous crime. Episode 208 looks at the case of Cavona Flenoy, a woman who either committed her crime for robbery or as self-defense against a rapist.
Unfortunately, the episode doesn’t quite drop any major new bombshells, relying mostly on the legal arguments already used. For most of us, it will be a matter of who one believes.
The episode basically starts with Cavona saying she is not a bad person, just someone who made a mistake. She also wishes she could take it back, which presumably means not going on the “date” at all. Flenoy speaks to us from the Chillicothe Correctional Center in Missouri, where she’s been incarcerated for the March 9, 2010 shooting of Hassan Abbas, serving a 25-year sentence.
I Am a Killer: Cavona Flenoy’s background
Cavona grew up in Kansas City, Kansas. Her mother was a minister, so Flenoy says she did not grow up under poverty.
However, she says she was sexually assaulted numerous times as a teenager, resulting in her becoming bitter and angry, which led her to use drugs and alcohol. She also had a son at 16 and says her abusive boyfriend put her in the hospital.
This is why she says she acquired a gun, always keeping it in her purse. Cavona Flenoy also says she went on a date with Hassan Abbas in exchange for buying liquor without legal identification. This is when things went awry, according to her account.
On their date, Hassan drove across the state line to Platte County, Missouri. Cavona says that Abbas gave her PCP, which she tried voluntarily. However, he allegedly tried to force her to have sex.
She describes shooting him, then being chased, then shooting him more times and escaping with his car keys, and in his car (he’s the one who drove her to that location). 3 days later she was arrested. 9 months after that she ended up pleading guilty to 2nd-degree murder, in what probably appeared as a best-case-scenario plea deal.
Was it self defense?
Like so many cases on I Am a Killer (and other true-crime series), this one has a number of frustrations. Flenoy’s story definitely sounds plausible, without knowing more specifics. It also sounds plausible even with knowing some more details.
Still, it’s also possible that some aspects of her story are not true, for all anybody knows, and the Prosecutors surely took advantage of this fact, be they right or wrong. Stacey Lewis, Cavona Flenoy’s mother, notes that it would have been a 1st-degree murder charge, had she pled innocent.
However, the 2nd-degree plea gave up her right to a trial or any self-defense claim. So, as anyone can see, it was a real “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation.
Lewis thinks a trial would have been better, but it would have possibly been a bigger gamble. Dr. Marilyn Hutchinson, a Psychologist, notes that Cavona claims to have been fending off a rape attack, and believes the woman acted in self-defense. I Am a Killer does not discuss whether or not Hassan Abbas had any related criminal record or any other details of his life or behavior. In other words, one is almost forced to assume this or that about the case as related to him.
A guilty plea mill
I Am a Killer also interviews Kate Webber, Flenoy’s Defense Attorney. In her plain-spoken way, she describes the criminal justice system as a “guilty plea mill,” musing that too many actual trials would grind the system to a halt. She also theorizes that the process is actually unconstitutional, as people are basically coerced into foregoing trials. Throw in possible racial bias and things can get even rougher for someone like Cavona Flenoy.
Eric Zahn, the Platte County Prosecutor, paints a different picture. He actually calls it a generous plea agreement, given the facts. However, he doesn’t specify any facts, at least not in this episode of I Am a Killer. The series also interviews Riverside detective Sgt. Dennis Jones, who claims it was not self-defense. He challenges her version of how the shooting took place, alleging that she knew he had $2,400 in tax return money.
How did she know about it? The episode doesn’t really mention it, nor does it go into whether Cavona had any prior criminal history, especially of theft or murder. There is one weird bit of insight into the case, however: Eric Zahn treats a split-second decision as premeditation, which sort of bends the standard definition of “premeditation.”
Challenging the Prosecutor
Kate Webber challenges that it was planned by Flenoy, noting that she took the car because he drove her there (which, honestly, would make some sense). Webber also asks why Cavona Flenoy would leave her shoes unless she panicked. It’s a bit of a frustrating claim in its own right, though, because some guilty criminals do not intelligently plan their crimes.
In this case, Cavona herself admits that drugs were involved in their meetup, which suggests anyone there might not have been thinking like their usual selves. She did apparently take his wallet and switch license plates. That looks incriminating but doesn’t definitively prove the shooting was not in self-defense.
The episode briefly mentions that, during Flenoy’s interrogation, she was left with a pen and paper, hoping she’d leave an incriminating statement. They selectively looked at her notes to incriminate her, particularly when she wrote: “I push him down like I was about to [have sex with] him. I got the gun. And I just pulled the trigger.”
However, they apparently ignored that she also wrote about not wanting to have sex with Abbas. Why believe one passage but not the other? So, as you can see, this case is not exactly fully resolved. It might have been self-defense. It might not have been. Either way, that plea deal got her in prison.
What are your thoughts on I Am a Killer and the Cavona Flenoy case? Let us know in the comments!