James Brady passes, death is ruled a homicide.

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Jaybird

Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to AskJaybird-at-gmail.com

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40 Responses

  1. Avatar Gabriel Conroy
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    says:

    I don’t know if this is true, but I had heard somewhere that if one dies before one year and a day have elapsed after the shooting/beating/attack/assault and the death is directly related to the shooting/beating/attack/assault, then the assailant can be charged with murder.

    I have no idea if that is true or if it is, if it’s true in all or most jurisdictions.Report

  2. Avatar Saul Degraw
    Ignored
    says:

    It is an interesting question.

    There is officially no statute of limitations on murder and I think historically there has never been a statute of limitations on murder.

    Though this usually works the other way around when the murderer is discovered decades after the murder. This happened this week on Long Island when a man was arrested for a spate of prostitute murders from the early 1990s.

    A death does not need to be immediate to be a homicide. Say Bob shoots Phil five times and Phil is left paralyzed and on life-support. If he eventually dies of the gunshot wounds, Bob can be charged with homicide.

    I’ve never heard of a case of something being ruled a homicide 33 years after the initial event/attack. That seems like way too much time elapsing. I suppose it is possible from a medical standpoint though.Report

  3. Avatar Damon
    Ignored
    says:

    Well, the guy was found not guilty or not able to stand trial back then, and if I recall correctly, he’s still under treatment, so it doesn’t seem to matter anyway. If he was found sane, maybe then…Report

  4. Avatar Gabriel Conroy
    Ignored
    says:

    Why “what the heck?”? Mr. Brady wasn’t very old, but he was at that age that people start to die. That sounds callous of me, but it happens to many people at around that age (73) and if I don’t die of something unexpected, my family history tells me that I’ll go at around that age, too.

    I do think there ought to be some time limit between the act and the death so that one ought not be able to be guilty of murder, per my (perhaps ignorant) understanding of the rules from my first comment above.Report

  5. Avatar Mike Schilling
    Ignored
    says:

    From the Andy Griffith Show:

    Barney: I tell you, Andy, that gypsy woman has powers. Remember when old man Harris evicted her? She cursed him and he died!

    Andy: Yeah, nine years later.

    Barney: There’s nothing worse than a slow, lingering death.Report

  6. Avatar notme
    Ignored
    says:

    The “year and a day” rule is the classic common law standard and would not apply in a jurisdiction that now uses codified law.Report

    • Avatar Griff in reply to notme
      Ignored
      says:

      I’m pretty sure it’s still the rule under Federal law though. See United States v. Chase, a 1994 case in which the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a murder conviction based on the year and a day rule because the rule had been recognized by the Supreme Court in 1891, and Congress was presumed to have incorporated the then-current common law definition of murder when it codified the crime in 1909. So, it would apply to Hinckley’s case.Report

  7. Avatar Mo
    Ignored
    says:

    While not justifying this Brady thing, would the people advocate the year and a day rule if someone was shot, in a coma for two years from said gunshot and then died? What about if he was in a coma for 10 years? 33 years?Report

  8. Avatar Kazzy
    Ignored
    says:

    Are we sure that identifying his death as a homicide isn’t just a political move?

    This is one of the problems I have with our criminal justice system being based on outcomes. If you and I both put a gun to someone’s head, pull the trigger, and your guy dies but my guy miraculously survives, we are charged with different crimes… even though the actions we took were identical. That seems wrong to me. I’m not sure I have a better way to think about it, but it is still problematic.Report

    • Avatar Murali in reply to Kazzy
      Ignored
      says:

      Are we sure that identifying his death as a homicide isn’t just a political move?

      Unless there was a separate incident that killed him, it is difficult see how we could reasonably construe this as anything but a political move. It is extremely unlikely that we can reasonably attribute his final cause of death to the bullet that was put in him 33 years ago.

      This is one of the problems I have with our criminal justice system being based on outcomes. If you and I both put a gun to someone’s head, pull the trigger, and your guy dies but my guy miraculously survives, we are charged with different crimes… even though the actions we took were identical.

      Success usually counts for something. Suppose I tried to hack in to your account to steal your money but get past the firewall. Compare this to another who tried the same but succeeded. The other guy stole your money. I just fished around with a computer.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Murali
        Ignored
        says:

        I think it is absolutely possible that is death is being declared a homicide by people who think John Hinckley got off easy in 1981.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Murali
        Ignored
        says:

        They were in general far more upset about Reagan, though it would be even dumber to charge murder because the victim only lived to be 93. My suspicion is that this is a way to avoid statute of limitations issues if Hinckley ever claims to be ready to leave his mental institution.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Murali
        Ignored
        says:

        @murali

        I guess it comes down to the fundamental question of the purpose of criminal justice. If we want to make people pay for their crimes, I suppose an outcome-focused system makes sense. If we want to stop crime from happening, I’m not so sure. If we let the guy who couldn’t get passed the firewall off easy, he probably just tries again. There is no reason to think he is any different in character than the other guy.

        I personally lean towards the latter view with regards to the purpose of our criminal justice system. Which would explain my perspective on the matter.Report

      • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to Murali
        Ignored
        says:

        @mike-schilling

        If your suspicion is correct, I’d say that’s a pretty cruel thing to do, regardless of what the law technically says. The guy obviously wasn’t thinking straight at the time. If he gets better, then I’m not inclined to begrudge him the few years he probably has left.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Murali
        Ignored
        says:

        The guy obviously wasn’t thinking straight at the time.

        How was he supposed to know that Jodie Foster was gay?Report

      • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to Murali
        Ignored
        says:

        For the record, I was gonna go there, but didn’t.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Murali
        Ignored
        says:

        Sure you did, you said “thinking straight”.Report

      • Avatar Griff in reply to Murali
        Ignored
        says:

        There’s not really a statute of limitations issue. Hinckley was acquitted; Double Jeopardy prohibits charging him again for the same crime. Whether he can be charged now with murder because it’s a different crime than assault with intent to kill is a somewhat more complicated question, but in my view the answer is still no, the Double Jeopardy clause protects him from prosecution.Report

    • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to Kazzy
      Ignored
      says:

      If you and I both put a gun to someone’s head, pull the trigger, and your guy dies but my guy miraculously survives, we are charged with different crimes… even though the actions we took were identical.

      Criminal policy isn’t really so much concerned about what seems fair from the standpoint of the accused.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        @vikram-bath

        It’d be interesting to see the shooter who killed a guy somehow seek action against the medical personnel that treated his victim should it be found that they were subpar and otherwise better efforts would have kept him alive.

        Also, that’s part of the problem. A criminal justice system should be concerned with fairness towards all parties.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        It’d be interesting to see the shooter who killed a guy somehow seek action against the medical personnel that treated his victim should it be found that they were subpar and otherwise better efforts would have kept him alive.

        I vaguely recall reading, decades ago, that when a hospital in Houston created the first emergency trauma center there, equipped to put someone into surgery within a few minutes of their arrival, they were credited with a substantial drop in the Houston murder rate. Maybe sue the city/county/state for failing to maintain adequate emergency trauma facilities?Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        A criminal justice system should be concerned with fairness towards all parties

        Yes, it should. But it actually is concerned with retribution and sanctimony.

        (Not to betray my biases or anything)Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Vikram Bath
        Ignored
        says:

        @michael-cain

        Interesting note. I also vaguely remember a “Law & Order” episode wherein a man was accused of shooting his wife. She went into a coma and the bullet could not be extracted from her brain without putting her at grave risk of death. The prosecution wanted the bullet removed because it’d serve as evidence. The husband did not: he argued it was because he didn’t want his wife to incur the risk while the prosecution argued it was to weaken the case against him. The prosecution won the motion, extracted the bullet, the wife died, and the husband saw the charge against him graduate from attempted murder to murder.
        @vikram-bath

        I agree completely.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Kazzy
      Ignored
      says:

      Let’s not be too quick to assume it’s a political move. The Medical Examiner’s duty is to determine the cause of death. To make the argument that it’s politically motivated, you’d need to figure out what the ME’s incentive is to do so other than a medical determination that the actual cause of death was related to his shooting injuries. And while that latter sounds weird to us, I don’t remember any of us identifying ourselves as medical doctors, so we may not be qualified to comment without further information.Report

      • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        That’s a good point. I admit I made a leap from “it’s a homicide” to “Mr. Hinckley should be charged with homicide.”

        It’s like some people I’ve known who’ve made the leap from “it’s a hate crime” to “we should have special penalties for hate crimes.”Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        An eminently fair point, @james-hanley .

        For the record, I’m happy to identify myself as a medical doctor if it strengthens my case. I’d be lying… but I’m happy to do it.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Kazzy
      Ignored
      says:

      If you and I both put a gun to someone’s head, pull the trigger, and your guy dies but my guy miraculously survives, we are charged with different crimes… even though the actions we took were identical. That seems wrong to me

      It’s never really been clear to me why incompetence should be considered a mitigating factor.Report

      • Avatar Murali in reply to Brandon Berg
        Ignored
        says:

        Its not that incompetence is a mitigating factor, it is that one of the things that punishment is about is doing bad things to people who have actually done bad things because they deserve it. If we actually going to punish people according to the severity of the harm they have done, then the fact that things didn’t turn out so badly will be relevant to the size of the punishment meted out.Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to Brandon Berg
        Ignored
        says:

        To me, the severity of the punishment is related to the threat someone poses; someone who tries to rob and you fails miserably is (generally) less dangerous to people in general than someone who tries to rob you and succeeds.

        It’s similar to the reason I think “hate crimes” is a legitimate category of crimes. If someone beats up a guy for having an affair with him wife, and has committed no other crimes, all we know for certain is that he’s a threat to people who have affairs with his wife. If someone beats up a guy for being black, he’s a threat to everyone who’s black and merely by living in society he increases the amount of fear that they’re living in, and he’s more likely to re-offend.

        I don’t think our justice system should be punitive. It should be directed at reducing the amount of threats that people face, both by keeping dangerous people away from society and by rehabilitating people who have committed crimes.Report

  9. Avatar Alan Scott
    Ignored
    says:

    Volokh says that Hinckley can’t be tried, both because the common law “year and a day” rule still applies to a federal murder case, and because double jeopardy prevents him from being tried for murder because of his attempted murder acquittal. (Though it does point to other cases where an attempted murder acquittal isn’t automatic protection against a murder charge).Report

  10. Avatar Brandon Berg
    Ignored
    says:

    This has some precedent. If you google ‘”died * years later” murder’ without the outer quotes, you’ll get some examples.

    There are any number of ways an injury can lead to death much later. Suppose, for example, a person is beaten and consequently develops brain damage leading to a seizure disorder. Thirty years later, he has a seizure on a staircase and falls and dies. I think you could make a case for homicide under those circumstances. Also, remember that Christopher Reeve died of an infected bedsore nine years after the accident that paralyzed him.Report

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