Murder or Suicide?

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Murder or Suicide?

Postby gmattson » Tue Jul 23, 2002 11:22 am

I know this doesn't have anything to do with the martial arts and it might even be an "urban legend", but I thought you might enjoy it anyway!

Subject: Was it Murder or Suicide

At the 1994 annual awards dinner given for Forensic Science,AAFS President Dr Don Harper Mills astounded his audience with the legal complications of a bizarre death. Here is the story.

On March 23, 1994 the medical examiner viewed the body of Ronald Opus and concluded that he died from a shotgun wound to the head.

Mr Opus had jumped from the top of a ten-story building intending to commit suicide.

He left a note to the effect indicating his despondency.

As he fell past the ninth floor his life was interrupted by a shotgun blast passing through a window, which killed him instantly.

Neither the shooter nor the deceased was aware that a safety net had been installed just below the eighth floor level to protect some building workers and that Ronald Opus would not have been able to complete his suicide the way he had planned.

Ordinarily," Dr Mills continued, "A person who sets out to commit suicide and ultimately succeeds, even though the mechanism might not be what he intended, is still defined as committing suicide."

That Mr Opus was shot on the way to certain death, but probably would not have been successful because of the safety net, caused the medical examiner to feel that he had a homicide on his hands.

In the room on the ninth floor, where the shotgun blast emanated, was occupied by an elderly man and his wife. They were arguing vigorously and he was threatening her with a shotgun.

The man was so upset that when he pulled the trigger he completely missed his wife and the pellets went through the window striking Mr Opus.

When one intends to kill subject "A" but kills subject "B" in the attempt, one is guilty of the murder of subject "B."

When confronted with the murder charge the old man and his wife were both adamant and both said that they thought the shotgun was unloaded. The old man said it was a long-standing habit to threaten his wife with the unloaded shotgun. He had no intention to murder her.

Therefore the killing of Mr Opus appeared to be an accident; that is, if the gun had been accidentally loaded.

The continuing investigation turned up a witness who saw the old couple's son loading the shotgun about six weeks prior to the fatal accident.

It transpired that the old lady had cut off her son's financial support and the son, knowing the propensity of his father to use the shotgun threateningly, loaded the gun with the expectation that his father would shoot his mother.

Since the loader of the gun was aware of this, he was guilty of the murder even though he didn't actually pull the trigger.

The case now becomes one of murder on the part of the son for the death of Ronald Opus.

Now comes the exquisite twist.

Further investigation revealed that the son was, in fact, Ronald Opus. He had become increasingly despondent over the failure of his attempt to engineer his mother's murder. This led him to jump off the ten story building on March 23rd, only to be killed by a shotgun blast passing through the ninth story window.

The son had actually murdered himself so the medical examiner closed the case as a suicide.

(A true story from Associated Press, Reported by Kurt Westervelt)
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Murder or Suicide?

Postby David Talley » Tue Jul 23, 2002 12:43 pm

If that is true I feel sorry for the poor cop that had to write the report.



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Murder or Suicide?

Postby Alan K » Tue Jul 23, 2002 4:59 pm

It certainly sounds like an Urban Legend.

The Net? The timing?

The result was correct in ruling it a suicide.

My solution is to cryogenically perserve the body for a time when new technology can give Opus a substitute head and charge him with the crime of suicide.

They could entitle this project "Opus One".

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Murder or Suicide?

Postby student » Tue Jul 23, 2002 8:45 pm

Urban Legend, Hell! Image

It looks like a law school final examination question in Criminal Law. Image

My answer would not be suicide, though...the sucide was stopped by a superceding intervening factor (the net), despite his attempt.

But I would agree with murder; he was responsible for the transferred intent (or more likely, the wantonness) that went with the shotgun pellets. It's just that the perpetrator did not survive the act. But in most jurisdictions he could be charged posthumously, if needed, to clear up the paperwork.

Had a .357 or .44 been used rather than a shotgun, would we be talking about a Magnum Opus?

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Murder or Suicide?

Postby Greg » Wed Jul 24, 2002 6:23 am

Seems to be some truth and some fiction...
http://www.truthorfiction.com/rumors/ronaldopus.htm

...and student should be ashamed of himself!
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Murder or Suicide?

Postby student » Wed Jul 24, 2002 12:38 pm

I'm a lawyer, Greg.

Any shame I may have had was removed, excised, and banished a long time ago....

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Murder or Suicide?

Postby Alan K » Wed Jul 24, 2002 4:16 pm

Murray,

It does resemble a Criminal law test question, and I hope that this exam would require essay type response.

Truth or fiction, it was a great story and made us think. Magnum Opus would be nice, but I would prefer a magnum of champagne.

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Murder or Suicide?

Postby LeeDarrow » Tue Jul 30, 2002 5:34 am

Much as I hate to say it, folks, I saw this one on an episode of Law and Order over 2 years ago.

But they DO take their stories from real life - din't they? Image

Respectfully,

Lee Darrow, C.Ht.
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Murder or Suicide?

Postby Alan K » Tue Jul 30, 2002 3:44 pm

To incorporate the execution of this story, and to accomplish the problems of timeing area and distance would be tough for a group of the best Hollywood stunt men and a team of Navy Seals.

Even if the shot missed the mark, Opus would not be safe if he hit that net head down or twisted. Even aeraialsts need net training.

However, I do like the story, true or false.

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