Re: RARA-AVIS: OT: but of possible interest on several levels

From: Brian Thornton (
Date: 19 Jan 2009

  • Next message: Steve Novak: "Re: RARA-AVIS:1,00 BEST CRIME NOVELS"

    Sorry to come late to the party on this one. I was out of town and away from email.

    Whether or not it's an urban legend, it definitely is a hypothetical used by law professors to explain the importance of the concept of "intent" in committing a crime.

    All the Best-


    On Fri, Jan 16, 2009 at 9:02 PM, sonny <> wrote:

    > this may not be new to you, but if it is, it's worth a read. first, read
    > the below and then the link that follows it.
    > ----------------
    > At the 1994 annual awards dinner given by the American Association for
    > Forensic Sciences, AAFS President Don Harper Mills astounded his audience in
    > San Diego with the legal complications of a bizarre death. Here is the
    > story...
    > On March 23 the medical examiner viewed the body of Ronald Opus and
    > concluded that he died from a gunshot wound of the head caused by a shotgun.
    > Investigation to that point had revealed that the decedent had jumped from
    > the top of a ten story building with the intent to commit suicide. (He left
    > a note indicating his despondency.) As he passed the 9th floor on the way
    > down, his life was interrupted by a shotgun blast through a window, killing
    > him instantly. Neither the shooter nor the decedent was aware that a safety
    > net had been erected at the 8th floor level to protect some window washers,
    > and that the decedent would not have been able to complete his intent to
    > commit suicide because of this...
    > Ordinarily a person who starts into motion the events with a suicide intent
    > ultimately commits suicide even though the mechanism might be not what he
    > intended. That he was shot on the way to certain death nine stories below
    > probably would not change his mode of death from suicide to homicide, but
    > the fact that his suicide intent would not have been achieved under any
    > circumstance caused the medical examiner to feel that he had homicide on his
    > hands...
    > Further investigation led to the discovery that the room on the 9th floor
    > from whence the shotgun blast emanated was occupied by an elderly man and
    > his wife. He was threatening her with the shotgun because of an interspousal
    > spat and became so upset that he could not hold the shotgun straight.
    > Therefore, when he pulled the trigger, he completely missed his wife, and
    > the pellets went through the window, striking the decedent.
    > When one intends to kill subject A, but kills subject B in the attempt, one
    > is guilty of the murder of subject B. The old man was confronted with this
    > conclusion, but both he and his wife were adamant in stating that neither
    > knew that the shotgun was loaded. It was the longtime habit of the old man
    > to threaten his wife with an unloaded shotgun. He had no intent to murder
    > her; therefore, the killing of the decedent appeared then to be accident.
    > That is, the gun had been accidentally loaded...
    > But further investigation turned up a witness that their son was seen
    > loading the shotgun approximately six weeks prior to the fatal accident.
    > That investigation showed that the mother (the old lady) had cut off her
    > son's financial support, and her son, knowing the propensity of his father
    > to use the shotgun threateningly, loaded the gun with the expectation that
    > the father would shoot his mother. The case now becomes one of murder on the
    > part of the son for the death of Ronald Opus...
    > Further investigation revealed that the son became increasingly despondent
    > over the failure of his attempt to get his mother murdered. This led him to
    > jump off the ten story building on March 23, only to be killed by a shotgun
    > blast through a 9th story window.
    > The medical examiner closed the case as a suicide.
    > ------------------

    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 19 Jan 2009 EST