Hypothetical: man kills wife, claims it was because she killed children

Discussion in 'Law & Justice' started by kazenatsu, Aug 20, 2018.

  1. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member

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    Here's a hypothetical:
    A man strangles his wife to death. He claims it's because he found she had strangled their two little daughters to death, and became so angry he killed her.
    There is not really enough evidence to prove which version of events actually happened. Should the man's story be believed and should he be given a light prison sentence? Or should it be assumed he is probably lying and he was the one who killed all three family members?

    The second part of this hypothetical:
    Now, in addition to this, suppose the man hid all three bodies, and after the bodies are discovered claims that he panicked and says he didn't think anyone would believe him.
    Does that change everything? Should he automatically be assumed guilty of murdering them all?

    Here's one last thing to consider. He's going to be convicted of murder either way, whether his story is believed or not.
    Do you believe the jury should be able to have any input into how long the prison sentence is? (Normally that would all be left up to the judge)

    This hypothetical is based on a real story that was just in the news.
    http://www.politicalforum.com/index...-killed-wife-for-strangling-daughters.540065/
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2018
  2. yasureoktoo

    yasureoktoo Well-Known Member

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    If he can put that question of doubt in the jury's head, he'll get manslaughter.

    He needs to be a good liar, with a good lawyer.


    However, that's not probable.

    He'll get 3 life terms plus 20 years.


    Colorado has the death penalty, but doesn't pass it around like Texas or Florida
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2018
  3. HonestJoe

    HonestJoe Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    No assumptions should be made at all (beyond the fundamental “innocent until proven guilty”), the facts should be assessed on the basis of all the available evidence, including any relevant circumstances surrounding the alleged crime itself.

    I wouldn’t say he should be definitively given a light sentence but if it is believed the circumstances were as he described, it could be considered mitigation for sentencing or even justify a lesser charge (some form of manslaughter due to diminished responsibility). That’d be based

    Again, no assumptions should be made. There are plenty of examples of innocent people doing stupid and incriminating things in extreme circumstances so anything he did after the deaths doesn’t automatically imply guilt. It is something he’d need to explain in court and would be elements judge and jury would be considering in reaching their decisions. It’s also worth noting that mishandling the bodies and not reporting the deaths can be criminal offences themselves, regardless of whether he was convicted of killing any of them.

    I don’t think juries should be giving actual “number of years” or “amount of money” sentences. The charges and their verdict should be able to give indication of how serious an offence they believe the defendants committed which in turn will inform the judge but I think the judge should be making the final decision given all of the technical, practical and legal aspects that may well need considering.
     
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  4. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member

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    Yes, but in some cases the charge may not vary depending on which version of events actually happened, and which version of events actually happened could make a huge difference with sentencing.
    In this case, the charge is murder, but the defendent would have the court believe that there was a very good (mitigating) reason for that murder. Under current law, the decision would be entirely out of the hands of the jury. It would be effectively up to the judge to determine which version of events likely happened.

    Suppose the evidence is entirely consistent with both versions of events.
    The forensic evidence shows he strangled his wife. The evidence is also consistent with his wife strangling the kids, but that could easily have been faked by the husband after the fact, to make it look like his wife was the one who had killed the daughters.

    In this case, none of the forensic evidence really helps us.
    There could also be plausible reasons on both sides for either version of events having happened. Maybe the relationship was going through a messy divorce, the wife may have had some history of violence and emotional instability, while the husband may have had a financial incentive and was carrying on an affair with another woman. The circumstantial evidence surrounding the incident could be very ambiguous.

    Since we can't prove that the husband's version of events isn't true, do we just have to assume that it is true when it comes to determining what the punishment will be?
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2018
  5. HonestJoe

    HonestJoe Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    There might not be much distinction in many cases but surely here the charge could be anything from first degree murder right through to manslaughter.

    To a great extent yes. Is that a bad thing? Can 12 laymen come up with a sentence that is legal, practical, consistent with previous cases better than an experienced legal professional?

    It isn't just about forensics (though these days there is unlikely to be nothing to help in that context). All the evidence comes together to reach a judgement, otherwise you wouldn't be able to get any convictions, let alone worry about sentence mitigation.

    You don't assume anything. All you'd know is that the husband said he believed the wife killed the children and that was his reason for killing her. In practice, "not sure" is probably involved in loads of legal cases. Nobody said reaching judgements (of guilt or sentencing) can be made easy.
     
  6. yasureoktoo

    yasureoktoo Well-Known Member

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    Now they are tossing around the death penalty.

    I don't think they will do it, unless there is a lot more compelling evidence than we are aware of.

    Like the Casey Anthony case, they must prove beyond a shadow of a doubt, and she got off.
    If she was looking at time, they might have convicted her.

    I think they will not go for death.
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2018
  7. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member

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    But effectively, the judge won't just be determining the sentence, he'll be deciding what happened (whether the man's story is true or not).
    Isn't that normally supposed to be the job of a jury?

    I don't know, it would be a pretty gruesome crime if he strangled his own two little daughters. Some of the people on the jury could get very emotional.

    (They might vote for the death penalty even if the man was only being charged with the murder of his wife)
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2018
  8. yasureoktoo

    yasureoktoo Well-Known Member

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    If anyone deserves the death sentence, this guy is it.

    However, depending on what evidence they have, it will be easier to get a conviction with life.
     
  9. HonestJoe

    HonestJoe Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    A judge making a decision on sentencing will considering all the relevant factors but in this example it’s not a simple switch, entirely believing or entirely disbelieving, but a more nuanced assessment of the circumstances and mental state of the defendant at the time. And yes, that ultimately leads to individual judge reaching conclusions on specific aspects (even if that conclusion is just either side of “maybe”) but that’s always been an element of a judges role. There isn’t anything new or special being introduced by this case and I’m sure there have been countless examples of exactly the same kind of circumstance that courts have had to deal with. This is just the first one you’ve noticed.
     
  10. delade

    delade Banned

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    I've been reading threads on this forum and it seems as if there is uncertainty as to Laws and customs. Take your thread for instance and the question. Should a man, who killed his wife, be seen with prejudicial judgement based on his testimony.

    Such questions might be addressing those possibilities that can change Laws in certain Countries and places where the already established Laws do not cover such things as 'partiality' judgments. But in The U.S. certain Laws are more 'set' than abled to be weighed one way or another. So your question if such a man should be tried under 'different' Court presidings and Judges and Jurors, is one that is directed more to future possibilities of Law changes within the legal system. So if that is your intention, the reader can understand that future law/legal changes can occur and if they do, could legal law pertaining to different circumstances of 'murder' be as diverse or not to all the different possible 'reasons' for murder(s) incidences.

    So if i were to be asked this because my opinion could truly have a change in Legal Law, I might address your question this way.

    If I was living in a Country where a man murdering his wife is 'legal' under certain conditions, then maybe the conditions in which he murdered his wife is what needs clarification. For myself, I do not know of any Country which allows for a husband to legally murder his wife for any reason. So if I was in a Country where murder was punishable by Law, I would not seek to change their already established Legal Laws pertaining to murder but might seek to see how a defense attorney, if that Country even allows for defending representation, could use the set of circumstances to lessen the verdict.

    If I were a defense attorney, it would be myself that would need to look into lesser degrees of murder, since a murder was committed. If I were a prosecuting attorney, i would seek to also prosecute as Lawfully and Justly as I swore to do.


    If I were a Judge, I would have to listen to both sides as well as the Jurors, if there are even Jurors in that Country, and either agree or disagree with the Jurors' decision, if that country allows for the Jurors to make the verdict.

    So your original question, although hypothetical, is dependent on which Country it is being decided in. For the U.S, it would probably seem a bit more strange that a husband even goes to the length of strangling the mother of his own 2 children... Instead of a lawyer, maybe what he needs is some family therapy. With his own parents and family..

    For a Lawyer to be more concerned with paper work 'jail time' more than the person himself or herself, it could seem cold and distant from the very person they are seeking to provide a 'nicer jail sentence' for.


    What kind of human heart has the ability to JUDGE life or death for another individual? A high one.

    If you, as a human, is being allowed to JUDGE another human, your peer, then they, the ones being JUDGED, also has the right to judge you, their peer, pertaining to Law and murder.

    IF you seek to deestablish current laws and replace them with older, more native laws, ask yourself if you are even aware of what their native Laws might have been pertaining to the exact same set of circumstances before comparing native to current Laws and ways.

    Otherwise all questions of murder and penalties which effect the entire population and not just 1, is coming across as causing division and becoming 'dumb' in ways of correct daily living.


    How about this? What would YOU want done if that murdered wife was your next door neighbor and that husband could be free or not living next to you.

    What might the other neighbors want done?
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2018
  11. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member

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    Yes, but if he suddenly snapped because she killed his daughters... I don't really feel that makes him a "murderer" in the conventional sense of the word.
    It would be the same if he killed a man because he walked in on that man raping one of his family members, or if he unexpectedly walked in on his wife in bed with another man. Many otherwise normal people could snap under those circumstances. I don't think it would be right to put them in prison for the rest of their life.

    (Well, I do have to qualify that last example, because in some parts of the U.S. it's apparently not all that big of a deal if your wife is cheating on someone else, so there definitely are some cultural norms at play)
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2018
  12. modernpaladin

    modernpaladin Well-Known Member

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    Assuming no forensic evidence to confirm or conflict his story, I think a light sentence is justified if he reports it. Even if it takes a day or two, I think 'moment of passion/temporary insanity' would fly. Light sentence and/or probabtion with mandatory counciling.

    If he doesnt report it, that means guilty imo. Lock up and lose the key.
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2018
  13. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member

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    What if he reports it over the phone and then immediately flees the country because he doesn't think he will be believed?
     
  14. modernpaladin

    modernpaladin Well-Known Member

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    Then he should make sure he flees to a non-extradiction country.
     
  15. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member

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    So if one doesn't place their trust in the justice system process, they should be presumed guilty?
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2018
  16. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member

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    I think a fair number of the people here might be apt to do the same thing, if put in that situation.

    Imagine you have a shaky relationship with your wife, she's constantly screaming at you, physically attacking you, and the marriage is almost over.
    Out of meanness she's telling you she's going to sleep with other men.

    You have two very beautiful little daughters who you love dearly, and would do anything in the world for.

    One day you come home. Your evil wife is sitting at the table with a smug look in her face. "You're not taking Kayla and Anna now", she says. You go into the bathroom and see the horror.

    Now she starts getting in your face. "What are you going to do now?!? What are you going to do now?!? Hmm?" she taunts, while shoving you.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2018
  17. modernpaladin

    modernpaladin Well-Known Member

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    Its not a matter of 'should.' He'll get a jury trial, and the jury isn't likely to believe him.
     
  18. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member

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    That sounds a little like circular logic. He doesn't think a jury will believe him so he runs. The jury then definitely does not believe him because he ran.

    I don't know, something just seems inherently unfair about that.

    Anyway, one of my whole points was that it's kind of irreverent whether the jury believes him or not. Even if his version of events is true, he's still technically guilty of murder. The reason for the murder, the alleged fact that his wife killed their children, doesn't change that fact.

    So let's look at this. The man did commit a murder, that fact is not in doubt, and the man does deserve punishment.
    Now of course, if the man's story was actually true, then he'd deserve a lot less punishment. But the jury isn't really going to have much input into that.
    Whether the jury believes the man's story or not, probably is not going to make any difference.
    The way the current legal system operates, it's all going to be decided by the judge.

    The only way the jury could have any input is if they decided to rebel and not follow the guidelines of the law, and refuse to convict him of first degree murder (even though what he did, even according to his story, obviously does constitute first degree murder).
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2018
  19. struth

    struth Well-Known Member

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    He should be presumed innocent, until the Govt can prove each and every element of the offenses they charge him with. He does not have any burden, doesn't have to testify, at all....but if he decides to, and goes with your first hypo, and the Jury believes him, he will likely get voluntary manslaughter for the wife's death....and a not guilty on the children.
     
  20. perdidochas

    perdidochas Well-Known Member

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    IMHO, somebody who suddenly snapped would be remorseful, and would turn himself in, not hide the bodies of not only the wife, but the kids too.
     

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