First Degree ____??: The Curious Case of The Falling Man
Here’s the scenario (slightly altered):
A man, John Smith, jumped off a high rise apartment complex attempting to end his life. He ultimately achieved his goal…..but not the way you think.
In this particular apartment complex, there lived an old man and woman. They were husband and wife of approximately 45 years. And they loved to argue with each other. But the old man had an odd way of proving his point.
When he got particularly heated, he would point an unloaded shotgun at his wife and say things like, “one of these days woman,” or “you’re gonna get it if you keep it up.” The gun was always unloaded so the old man knew there was never any danger.
The old man and woman had a single son who was somewhat estranged. He had been ever since his mother decided to cut him off financially. Things got pretty bad for the son. As his bank account decreased, his anger for his mother increased.
One day the son decided he’d had enough. Knowing his father’s propensity to resort to that shotgun, he snuck into their house and loaded it. This was obviously done with the expectation that his father would ultimately shoot his mother.
After several weeks of arguments without the use of the shotgun, the son became increasingly depressed. But one day, the old man and his wife had a very intense argument. The old man picked up the shotgun and said “now you’re gonna get it you old bag.” The old man, thinking the gun was unloaded, pulled the trigger.
The gun fired. Luckily for the wife, the old man had poor vision and had missed. However, at that exact same moment, John Smith had already leaped off the top of the building. As he passed the 9th floor window where the old man and the woman lived, the pellets from the shotgun blast struck him in the head….killing him instantly.
The story gets better, but lets stop here for a moment.
John Smith jumped off the top of a very, very tall building attempting to end his life. Once he jumped, there was no question what awaited him at the ground level. But he was killed by the old man before he hit the ground.
Thus the question is: Was his death a homicide or a suicide?
Instead of me answering the question, you give it a shot. Here’s everything you need to know:
- Criminal Homicide: The unlawful killing of another, which may be first degree murder, second degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide or vehicular homicide.
- First Degree Murder: (i) A premeditated and intentional killing of another; (ii) A killing of another committed in the perpetration of or attempt to perpetrate any first degree murder, act of terrorism, arson, rape, robbery, burglary, theft, kidnapping, aggravated child abuse, aggravated child neglect, rape of a child, aggravated rape of a child or aircraft piracy; or (iii) A killing of another committed as the result of the unlawful throwing, placing or discharging of a destructive device or bomb.
- Second Degree Murder: (i) A knowing killing of another; or (ii) A killing of another that results from the unlawful distribution of any Schedule I or Schedule II drug, when the drug is the proximate cause of the death of the user.
- Voluntary Manslaughter: The intentional or knowing killing of another in a state of passion produced by adequate provocation sufficient to lead a reasonable person to act in an irrational manner.
- Criminally Negligent Homicide: Criminally negligent conduct that results in death constitutes criminally negligent homicide.
If you think his death was a homicide then you need to answer one more question: Who is guilty, the old man or the son?
Comment below or on Facebook with your answer and find out if you’re right or wrong.
Enter your email address above (on the left sidebar) if you want to find out the surprising ending to this story.
Good Legal Health.
The Juris Doctor