Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Criminal Profiling Topic of the Day: Commit Crime and Collect Cash

What sentence do you think this guy got?

"My wife was falsely accusing me of having an affair with one of her friends. She pushed me and I pushed her away from me and I went to the kitchen to get a bottle of medicine because I had a headache. I was putting water in the glass when I heard her yell, "I am going to kill you, you bastard!" It just scared me because once before she had threatened me with a gun. It was just a spontaneous act. I grabbed a knife that was drying on a towel on the counter. I turned around just as she lunged. The knife just went into her chest and she collapsed and died. I loved her before I knew her and I will continue to love her for all my days."

After 11 months in jail during which time he completed his GED and went to Bible study and life skill classes, the judge said at his sentencing hearing, "I have come to find out that you are apparently a very decent person." He accepted the plea bargain that suspended a ten-year prison sentence and placed him on probation for five years. "I am giving you the benefit of the doubt."

Outraged? I bet. Eleven months for killing his wife?

Now, replace the he with she in this story and see how you feel. This two page story in The Washington Post was one of those human interest stories, this time about how a woman who had a hard upbringing accidentally killed her husband last night and is now back in the world and "Reclaiming a Life (hers apparently since hubby ain't coming back)." We are supposed to feel sorry for her struggles. She is having difficulties with work and finances (although that $400,000 she is about to pick up from the insurance company for stabbing her husband should help a wee bit - apparently an "involuntary manslaughter" conviction allows the killer to collect money on the victim).

I don't buy the woman's story. She uses the word "just" a few too many times for comfort as "just" is one of those words that sets up a red flag for a profiler; usually a lie follows.

But, ten months? The benefit of the doubt? If this had been a man, would the attitude be quite so lenient? I have much sympathy for battered women and realize that self-defense may be an issue, but this lady's story doesn't hold water. If she had been a guy, she would be doing all ten of those years. Instead, the woman gets nearly half a million dollars for committing a crime. Being female in this instance, paid off.

Criminal Profiler Pat Brown


Preraph said...

I think the sex bias is justified because men are historically, over many millenia, much more prone to violence. The situation you cite is one of those borderline calls no matter whether it's he or she, however, not a clear case of self-defense, but it certainly can't be ruled out.

I admit, however, that when I read the phrase that "he" said he'd loved her before they met and would love her for all his days, I immediately thought "stalker personality." But when reading that as her saying those words, I didn't necessarily.

Criminal Profiler Pat Brown said...

I will tell you another problem I have with this. Again, as much as I support women in their fight against domestic violence, there is still a responsibility women must accept if they wish to at some point claim domestic violence as a defense. This woman claimed her husband had choked her to the point of passing out in a previous incident. She failed to report this to police. She failed to leave her husband. Admittedly, she might have been frightened of retaliation, but she should have been equally as frightened to stay in the home and be choked to death the next time. She should also have taken measures to protect her children against a violent man in the home. Even if she risked her life and theirs by leaving, she certainly didn't improve the odds by staying and also failed to do the right thing as well.

In this particular case, I think the woman's story is questionable which is why I would not have been so willing to accept this self-defense story. Without a previous recorded history of violence against her, I am a little skeptical that a knife just happened to be available which she just happened to pick up and she just happened to turn at the wrong time and he just happened to lunge.

I just sorta don't believe her.


Preraph said...

I agree it's incomprehensible to most of us why abused women don't get out sooner, but it's a proven fact that they don't. Isn't the statistic 7 incidents before most abused women act? It's part of the abuse syndrome. And let's face it, very little is done to lock up a guy the first time the police are called on him for spousal abuse. Anyone who has been down that road or knows people who have knows calling the police does not protect them. And of course, many of these women would have no financial independence to be able to make a run for it. Even if they were able to, what with kids and everything. So disgusting as I find it that anyone allows themself to remain in those situations, it is a fact of life and they are not the criminal (unless it endangers their children).

That being said, I agree the story sounds fishy, the knife rather convenient, that your instincts are talking to you for a reason, and that it bears much investigation to find the truth. They may have been both violent and enjoyed these little battles. But you can't assume so. She may have just finally decided to defend herself. Her instincts may have kicked in and she may have just KNOWN this time he was really going to hurt her. It happens.