Sunday, June 14, 2009

An interesting Story - From AB Senior's Blog

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-storey 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.
 
 
 
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-storey building on March 23rd, only to be killed by a shotgun  blast passing through the ninth storey window. The son had actually murdered  himself so the medical examiner closed the case as a suicide.

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Regards
Vijayashankar

4 comments:

Ramesh said...

Cool! ha Ha!

Congrats on 29,000 hits.

To date that Wockhardt story was great!

I have one to post on them, on robbing me of Rs 64,000/- on wrong diagnosis of "Angina" while it was just gas....

ஷண்முகப்ரியன் said...

superb story with so many realistic twists,Vijay.

கெக்கே பிக்குணி said...

This was a made-up story to illustrate how altering certain facts can greatly alter legal consequences.

http://www.snopes.com/horrors/freakish/opus.asp

Request: Please take off the word verification in comments.

ஷண்முகப்ரியன் said...

Sir,I could not resist rendering your post in Tamil.Kindly view my blog and see the immediate response to it.Thank you Vijay.