In the English case of A-G Ref NO. 3 OF 1994, The defendant stabbed his pregnant girlfriend in the face, abdomen and back when she was 22-24 weeks pregnant. 17 days after the incident the woman went into premature labour and gave birth to a live baby. The baby died 121 days later due to the premature birth. The defendant was charged with wounding and GBH on the mother and convicted for which he received a sentence of 4 years. On the death of the baby he was also charged with murder and manslaughter. On appeal, the HL's disagreed and held the defendant's actions could not amount to murder, but could amount to constructive manslaughter. There was no requirement that the foetus be classed as a human being provided causation was proved. The attack on the mother was an unlawful act which caused the death of the baby. There is no requirement under constructive manslaughter that the unlawful act is aimed at the actual victim or that the unlawful act was directed at a human being.
In the US case of State v. Courchesne (2010), the defendant stabbed Demetris Rodgers to death while she was pregnant; (2) she died at the hospital but her baby was born alive; and (3) the baby lived for 42 days before dying. The defendant was convicted of one of the crimes under the capital felony statute that makes a defendant eligible for the death penalty: "murder of two or more persons at the same time or in the course of a single transaction. " After conviction of a capital felony, the court holds a sentencing hearing where the jury considers statutory aggravating factors and mitigating evidence to decide whether to impose a death sentence. At issue in this case was the aggravating factor that "the defendant committed the offense in an especially heinous, cruel, or depraved manner. " The court considered whether that aggravating factor had to be proven as to both murders or only one in order to make the defendant subject to the death penalty.
The defendant waits on death row. Whilst the defendant in AG received 4 years imprisonment.
With the actus reus and mens rea (act & mental state) requirements of murder being the same in both the UK and US - it appears that statutory interpretation acted as the vehicle for the alternate decisions in these cases; the US using judicial creativity in its interpretation and application of the doctrine of transferred intent and definition of 'human alive'.
Which do you think is right, in the eyes of the law? Should a feotus be considered human alive for conviction of murder in the law? Should the doctrine of transferred intent be understood as applying to hurt from the mother to the unborn baby?
Do you think incidental death of a baby be murder if harm occurred when a feotus?
Do you think the US and UK operated correctly, according to law? What other factors do you think were present in the alternate decisions here?
How is this murder of a baby in US but not in UK? O Watch
- Thread Starter
- 03-12-2010 17:19