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Murder or Manslaughter?

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  • Murder or Manslaughter?

    This is sort of a hypothetical, but based on a real case (unfortunately a family I know).

    Please share what you think and why. My way of dealing with upsetting things is research, research, research. Give me a traumatic event in life, and I'll be sure to write a thesis on it.

    Here's the hypothetical case:

    Husband plots to kill wife and make it look like an accident or suicide.
    Husband takes out extra accidental-death life insurance on her without her knowledge. There is clear evidence of this.
    Husband also begins to plant suspicions among others that wife might be suicidal (she is not).
    Then in the midst of an intense argument, husband kills wife in anger/rage, saying she attacked him physically first.

    What should be the charge? Murder or manslaughter?
    In most circumstances in which a couple are in a fight and one kills the other in the "heat of passion," it's manslaughter, maybe murder II in some states. But there is clear evidence of premeditation. He did plan to kill her, but not that day and not in that way.

    What would you say?

  • #2
    I'm sorry that there are circumstances that are making you think in this direction. If I had to give an opinion, I lean toward murder rather than manslaughter. Premeditation could include provoking the heated argument, etc.
    Marketeer
    Senior Member
    Last edited by Marketeer; 06-11-2013, 11:32 AM.
    I am not able to respond to private messages. Thanks!

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    • #3
      I think it would depend on how much evidence there was and what the DA thought could make stick. I've heard it said that if Jim fires a gun at Jane, misses Jane but hits Joe and Joe dies as a result, Jim is not innocent because he intended to hit Jane. I would think some degree of murder would be appropriate, but if the evidence is not convincing or if some of it gets thrown out for one reason or another, it might be reduced or plea-bargained to manslaughter. It'll be the highest charge the DA thinks he can get past a jury, give or take a degree or two for negotiation purposes.
      The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

      Comment


      • #4
        I was thinking the same. This person is charged with 1st degree murder, but I was thinking it might not hold up and would end up on a conviction on a lesser-included offense like 2nd degree murder. Evidently the evidence is strong about the plans he had been making. He just didn't stick with his plan and "lost it" instead. I was also concerned that he could try for some sort of diminished capacity, losing his mind in the midst of a terrible fight, but wondered whether all the evidence of his premeditation would prevent that from being successful.

        (This couple were friends of our family and were always very "normal" at least until a few months ago. Husband always seemed like a sweet guy. Sorry if I seem oddly "removed" about this, but that's how I tend to cope with things.) If someone I'm familiar with here wants to see the news stories, I can PM you the links. I just don't want to link them here publicly.

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        • #5
          Back when I worked in higher education, one of the most beloved alumni volunteers of the college was shot and killed by her husband, who then killed himself. It was very difficult at the time to wrap my head around how something like that could have happened -- they seemed like the ideal couple. Looking back now that 15 years have passed, I still don't pretend to understand it all. Incidents like this have a ripple effect that spreads far beyond the immediate family. Again, sorry that you are having to experience this.
          I am not able to respond to private messages. Thanks!

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          • #6
            Thanks, but I'm not experiencing nearly as much as the people closer to this family. They were my sister and brother-in-law's very good friends. They also had/have two small children who I'm praying for, who are close to my sister's kids. They spent Thanksgiving with us and it was such a wonderful day...they were such "regular" people.

            It's just so hard to comprehend---this stuff happens in books and movies, not to people we know and like.
            TSCompliance
            Senior Member
            Last edited by TSCompliance; 06-11-2013, 02:12 PM.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by TSCompliance View Post
              Thanks, but I'm not experiencing nearly as much as the people closer to this family. They were my sister and brother-in-law's very good friends. They also had/have two small children who I'm praying for, who are close to my sister's kids. They spent Thanksgiving with us and it was such a wonderful day...they were such "regular" people.

              It's just so hard to comprehend---this stuff happens in books and movies, not to people we know and like.


              Oh TSC - I'm so very sorry Please know that there are people across the world praying.

              If I were the DA in this case, I'd be pushing for Murder 1. I would, though, allow the jury to consider a lesser verdict - anything to make sure the <insert very rude word here> doesn't walk completely.

              Comment


              • #8
                Unless a Federal criminal law is involved, murder and manslaughter are defined by the laws of the particular state. For example, in Illinois there is the crime of second degree murder: " At the time of the killing they are acting under a sudden and intense passion resulting from serious provocation by the individual killed..." I am not a criminal defense attorney but to me this sounds like either first or second degree murder, not manslaughter, based on your summary.
                David K. Staub (www.illinoisbusinessattorney.com)
                Forum posts are not legal advice, are for informational and educational purposes only, and are not a substitute for proper consultation with legal counsel.

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                • #9
                  I'm so sorry, TSC. I would lean toward murder "in some degree."
                  Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

                  Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

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                  • #10
                    Premeditation doesn't require days of thinking about it, it just means you thought about it, then did it. It can be a matter of a second between the thought and the act. BUT, the D.A. likes to win, and will only pursue murder 1 if s/he thinks they can win.
                    I am not an attorney, and don't play one on TV. Any information given is a description only and should be verified by your attorney.

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                    • #11
                      It seems DAs like to aim high with the charge so they can plea bargain down and still come out with the charge they wanted. By starting at murder it gives a lot of wiggle room to negotiate.

                      Based on what you said, it sounds like premediation to me. He planned to kill her and did it. Maybe not in the way he originally intended but accomplished none the less.

                      TS, sorry this is affecting you. This type of case makes you question other areas of your life. Along the lines of "if this nice person can have a dark side, who can I trust?"

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Given fact juries are often confused by instructions and/or law I think DA should move away from Murder one. Murder one requires intent and premeditation. Yes its there but not at time of death all evidence shows the faux suicide method and not by hand. Victim died during a fight which was not premeditated and was a passion filled event. The plan you allude to can be used to support murder II and get jury to ignore any manslaughter charge as accused did want victim dead and planned to benefit from death. A smart DA would not want to or should pursue a charge that could result in acquittal if murder II or manslaughter was not an option
                        http://www.parentnook.com/forum/

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                        • #13
                          Thanks everyone for your thoughts and opinions on this. We don't even know yet if he will plead guilty or go all the way through a trial. I'm pretty sure they went for the capital charge with the idea that his lawyers will convince him to plead guilty to something lesser.

                          Please keep these little girls (the daughters) in your prayers. Their lives will never be the same, as they've lost both parents.



                          Yes, I have seen first hand how juries get confused by the laws and instructions--I was an alternate juror on a child molestation case and the "real" jurors let the guy walk, in my opinion, because they misunderstood the law as worded and the judge's instructions. I wrote a letter afterward to the judge and prosecutor about how they interpreted it incorrectly, but it was too late and I guess it didn't matter that the jurors, as average people, just misunderstood. In a way it was the prosecutor's fault, for not educating the jury about the wording of the law and what each piece meant. Fortunately the PA statutes on homicides seem very clearly written.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Thoughts and prayers to you and all involved. PM me if you just want to talk. or vent.
                            The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I agree. The man lost his wit, let the courts deal with it. The kids are in my prayers.

                              TS, be very careful whenever you talk to a judge. They are one step from being god-like (though in their minds alone).

                              I was a victim in a DUI accident back in 12/06. I was nearly killed, EMTs had to defib me once or twice on the way to the hospital. 19 year old kid, drunk & no drivers license because of previous alcohol vios. You know what the court did? They dismissed ALL the charges. I e-mailed the judge and expressed my opinion of that, as the victim, and that not only got me arrested, I spent two weeks in jail and had it cone to trial I could have landed a minimum of 6 years in prison. I only gave my opinion, no threats outright or implied. The hearing judge issued a retro-active search warrant for my home and a warrant to access the hard drives on my computer. They seized my computer, medical files and the files I had for a mining claim I was about to stake. Even though the trial judge ordered my computer returned immediately after I pled out, it still took the cops 2-1/2 months to get it back to me. They destroyed so many files on my computer. The mapping I used to do for the USFS, thankfully I had back up files for those. Same with the same work I did for the Search and Rescue team I was on (I was the Logistics Section Chief). They did damage that for the files that had not been backed up off site that runs in the thousands of dollars. And I was just pitching a fit over the court letting the kid go.

                              That kid now has a nice well paying job, a nice home, a cute wife and a kid or two. I'm disabled for life and in the next couple years I'll be applying for SSI. And I have the court disposition if anyone wants to see it to make sure I'm telling the truth.

                              When I say those judges are one step from god status, I'm not kidding. For the large part they don't care who you are. Just be careful TS. Be VERY careful.
                              cactus jack
                              Senior Member
                              Last edited by cactus jack; 06-13-2013, 03:00 AM.
                              I don't believe what I write, and neither should you. Information furnished to you is for debate purposes only, be sure to verify with your own research.
                              Keep in mind that the information provided may not be worth any more than either a politician's promise or what you paid for it (nothing).
                              I also may not have been either sane or sober when I wrote it down.
                              Don't worry, be happy.

                              http://www.rcfp.org/taping/index.html is a good resource!

                              Comment

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