Thursday, April 21, 2005

How to Free Six Murderesses

Yesterday one of our professors discussed a criminal law practice exam which was taken directly from the story of Hanzel and Grettel. That got me would I defend the murderers in the musical Chicago? This is my best effort. Forgive my stupid mistakes. Mancandee and Gretchen, what do you think?


“So, I said to him,
I said, "You pop that
gum one more time..."
and he did. So I took the shotgun off the wall
and I fired two warning shots...
...into his head.”

While she will probably be convicted of murder in the second degree, as her attorney I would argue the following:

  1. The bubble gum popping was unusually loud and would provoke any reasonable person to take extreme measures. She warned him of the fact that his bubble gum popping would provoke a negative reaction and it did. It is reasonable provocation and therefore she should be convicted of voluntary manslaughter.
  2. She fired two warning shots into the air which somehow hit him in the head. The act of firing a gun into the air is not reckless behavior (shooting into a crowd would be). It is, perhaps, negligent. The bullet must have bounced off of several household items then hit him in the head which was not a foreseaable event. She should be convicted of involuntary manslaughter or negligent homicide for her negligent behavior but clearly did not murder him.

“So that
night, when he came home, I fixed him
his drink as usual.
You know, some guys just can't hold
their arsenic.”

He really liked arsenic in his drink and asked for it nightly (note: “I fixed him his drink as usual”). He did not die from the arsenic before and she had absolutely no knowledge of the fact that continued consumption of arsenic would lead to his death. All she did was fix his drink as requested. She is innocent.

“He'd go out every night
looking for himself
and on the way
he found Ruth,
Rosemary and Irving.
I guess you can say we broke
up because of artistic differences.
He saw himself as alive
and I saw him dead.”

This death occurred in the heat of passion and was provoked by information revealing that her husband had cheated on her with several women and one man. She had little control over her behavior when this information was revealed. She should be convicted of voluntary manslaughter, not murder.

“Now, I'm standing in the kitchen
carvin' up the chicken for dinner,
minding my own business,
and in storms my husband Wilbur,
in a jealous rage.
"You been screwin' the milkman,"
he says. He was crazy
and he kept screamin',
"you been screwin the milkman."
And then he ran into my knife.
He ran into my knife ten times!”

She knew with absolute certainty that her husband would beat her to death (or at least close to it) when he found out that she cheated on him. When he last suspected that he cheated on her, he beat her severely. He was in a violent rage and it was clear that he was going to committ battery. It is clear that he was lunging toward her ("he ran into my knife"). This time she acted in self-defense to an imminent threat of deadly force. She is innocent.

“Well, I was in such a state of shock,
I completely blacked out. I can't remember a thing.
It wasn't until later,
when I was washing the blood off my hands
I even knew they were dead.”

This level of shock can render someone unconscious and actions committed while unconscious are involuntary and therefore do not meet the actus reus requirement. (See People v. Newton). Velma Kelly is innocent.

<>“We both reached for the gun.”

A clear case of self-defense. Go free, my dear girl.


” And they abused us
How could you tell us that we were wrong?”

You’re not, honey, you’re not.


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11:02 PM  

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