Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Murder / Suicide.. A VERY INTERESTING CASE ....
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 Case:

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
hat 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


Anjani said...

That's quite an interesting case..

Abhi(03bcm001) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Abhi(03bcm001) said...

Its quite very interesting.. qualified for a holly-wood movie. Please post such interesting cases more..if you read thru anywhere :-)