On NPR yesterday, I heard a commentary on the 1969 York Pennsylvania riots. The reporter stood on a street corner and said something to this effect: It was on this street corner that Henry Schaad was murdered on a Thursday afternoon in July 1969.
About two minutes later in the commentary, it became apparent that Officer Schaad had been shot on that street corner, but that he actually died in the hospital two weeks later from complications stemming from the gunshot wound.
I felt a little betrayed by the "he was murdered on this spot" line. To be murdered on a street corner, do you have to die on that street corner?
<<To be murdered on a street corner, do you have to die on that street corner?>>
It certainly helps in drama--and you save the cab fare, always a plus.
Ordinarilly, I suppose, this would be reported "X was shot at corner and was pronounced dead at hospital two hours later." It remains, though, that X was murdered, and he was not murdered in the hospital. That it was reported "murdered" and not "shot and pronounced dead" seems to me appropriate in an historical piece.
That you would feel cheated one way or another deserves consideration :)
It was on this street corner that Henry Schaad was murdered on a Thursday afternoon in July 1969.
later in the commentary, it became apparent that Officer Schaad had been shot on that street corner, but that he actually died in the hospital two weeks later
Ah, so time-on-air was not the constraint.
The officer was shot there and later died of his wounds.Then, the reporter should have mentioned if anyone was ever arrested and convicted of the murder. IF it had any bearing on the main story. If not why mention it and mention it so disjointedly?
Tsk Tsk Old curmudgeon goes off muttering "...in my day..."
For what it's worth: in the legal context, a delay between the act causing death and the death does not negate the act as "murder."
Warning: boring legal synopsis follows. For example, in People v Harding, 443 Mich 693 (1993), the defendants robbed the victim and shot him in the heart and abdomen. The victim initially survived the attack, and the defendants were convicted of armed robbery, assault with intent to commit murder, and felony firearm. More than four years after the crimes, the victim died as a result of the gunshot wounds -- while playing basketball, as I recall. There is no statute of limitations or repose for murder. The prosecutor must prove proximate cause for the victim's death, but is not precluded by the mere passage of time from charging a defendant for murder for a death which occurred some time after the defendant's actions which caused the death. The defendants were then convicted of felony murder and felony firearm.
Since a murder seems to be constituted by the sum-total of events that transpire from the time the act-of-crime is committed to the time of actual death, "I'm standing at the scene of his murder" in such a circumstance would seem to me to be more precise and appropriate. Actually, this phrase does seem to be used in such a circumstance more often than not. Perhaps the reporter in question was being a bit overzealous for the melodramatic?
Thanks for that legal context, Sparteye. I recall reading several articles by a William O'Barr, who wrote about the effects of various types of language on jurors (over-polite, hyper-correct, aggressive, etc.). He declared law to be a profession of words and lawyers students of language.
In the American legal system, more often than not, if a jury declares something murder (or a monopoly, or fraud, or a copyright infringement, etc.), then they've effectively extended the context of the word to include that act (regardless of what the OED says). Not much can overturn that declaration.
However, I don't dispute the act of murder. Just where it may have occurred. Whitman O'Neill's analysis that it was part of the scene is interesting.
Sparteye: your "boring legal synopsis" is anything but ... Thank you.
WhitON : your observation "I'm standing at the scene of his murder" in such a circumstance would seem to me to be more precise and appropriate" is right on.
I have reservations with the scattered way the story was done .. as the listeners would have been better served if the fact and the details were presented as a whole rather than separated as they were ... "two minutes later."
<<"I'm standing at the scene of his murder">>
I agree that this may be a more felicitous turn of phrase, but what makes it more precise and not merely equivalent?
Equivalent - of things and people - equal in power or excellence (OED)
Two hallmarks of good reporting are conciseness and clarity. The story as presented in first post was neither.
Conciseness = (OED) brief and comprehensive.
<<Equivalent - of things and people - equal in power or excellence (OED)>>
Point taken. Question, if you care to continue: Though not of equal power or excellence, not having equivalent meanings? (That your prefered formulation is the better is not disputed, only the use of "equivalent" is questioned.)
Warning: even more boring legal synopsis follows
Sparteye's leagleyed analysis is not necessarily applicable outside Michigan.
The common law position (which prevails, generally speaking, in the English speaking world except where modified by statute) is that if a victim of an assault expires more than a year and a day after the injury was inflicted, the perpetrator is not liable to be convicted of murder. An element of the crime is that the offender causes the death, and if the consequence is too remote (in time or other circumstance) from the act, the chain of causation is broken.
Sparteye's right: there isn't a statute of limitations for murder. But that, with respect, doesn't dispose of the issue. A statute of limitations would prohibit the prosecution from commencing legal proceedings after a certain date. The further question of whether the act and the consequence are so remote in time or circumstance as to sever the causal chain between them is a separate issue.
My bailiwick, the Northern Territory of Australia, has modified the common law by enacting a Criminal Code, but our Code doesn't adopt the common law year and a day provision with respect to murder. It is in fact sphinxically silent on the issue. Nevertheless, the old rule still seems to survive in practice, and is probably still good law here.
Although the Code generally displaces the common law, where it doesn't cover the field, the common law continues to poke through: the Code, to use an oft-cited legal image, is written on a common law palimpsest rather than a tabula rasa
Now is 'palimpsest' a beautiful word, or what?
<<the chain of causation is broken.>>
If the murder's no murder, then perp's no perp and the sentence "..if a victim of an assault expires more than a year and a day after the injury was inflicted, the perpetrator is not liable to be convicted of murder" has not even the palimpsest of a subject. ;)
Thanks to both our friends at the bar. Keep 'em coming.
if the consequence is too remote (in time or other circumstance) from the act, the chain of causation is broken
I seem to remember there was a quite recent case in the UK that hit the legal headlines over this issue. Initially someone was convicted of grievous bodily harm when their victim was hospitalised; this conviction was successfully changed some years later to murder due to the victim having died after spending several years in a persistent vegetative state. Presumably, despite the extraordinary lapse in time, the prosecution was able to demonstrate an unbroken causal link. (‘Fraid I don’t have the case reference, though.)
Michigan used to have the old common law year-and-a-day rule, Rusty, but it wasn't altered by statute. The Michigan Supreme Court looked at current medical technology and overruled the common law rule with the new common law rule. I guess I'm a little surprised that the year-and-a-day rule still lives (but on life support, only for more than a year, so when it dies, it is not murder ...) anywhere. OK guys: let's hear from other jurisdictions now.
" Now is 'palimpsest' a beautiful word, or what? "
Not to the antiquarians painfully puzzling out the more important images that were all but distroyed by sometimes trivial images that were superimposed.
<<overruled the common law rule with the new common law rule>>
Would you mind spelling this one out a little (old/new -- if there can be a new common law, what need for the code)? Thanks.
if there can be a new common law, what need for the code
In the US -- except for Louisiana, which has law based on the Code Napoleon -- the "LAW" consists of a quilt of standards, each piece coming from the federal or state constitution, statutes passed by the Legislature, and the common law, which was derived from the English system. The constitutional provisions supersede all other sources of law. The Legislature has primary authority for passing new laws through statutes, and if a statute does not conflict with a constitutional provision, it controls. All the rest is law created by judicial decision, and that body of judicial decision is the "common law." Despite 150+ years of the Michigan Legislature passing statutes, statutory law only addresses a portion of what is required to govern everyday affairs and to resolve controversies. Unless and until the legislature passes a statute which addresses an issue - like, say, the year-and-a-day rule, which was created in England many a year ago - the common law governs the issue, and the judiciary continues to have the power to alter the common law. So, since the Legislature never changed the year-and-a-day rule, and the Supreme Court thought that the rule was obsolete, the Court changed it. If the Legislature wants to, it can overrule the Supreme Court by enacting a statute which reinstitutes the year-and-a-day rule.
As a matter of fact, a problem will arise in Michigan which the Legislature purposely avoids because of political considerations, and the Legislature will leave it to the Court to resolve. Or, sometimes the legislative scheme is so sloppy no one can make sense of it, and the Court must engraft provisions in its role as interpreter. Often, the Legislature later specifically enacts the provisions as interpreted by the Court. Michigan's governmental immunity act is a good example of that.
Early this year in Maryland, a police officer who had been shot by a perpetrator in the course of committing a crime and who had been badly injured to the extent that he was retired on disability and was, in fact greatly disabled, died. Doctors determined that his death was the direct result of his injury, which had occurred 28 years previously. The criminal who was responsible had died in the meantime, so there was no question of charging him with felony murder, but a determination of murder was made and one additional murder was added to the statistics for the year, which the Commissioner of Police was not happy with, since the stats are bad enough already.
On a related subject: Heretofore, the law in Maryland has been that if a pregnant woman is shot or otherwise assaulted and her baby dies as a result of such act, the perpetrator is liable to be charged with murder. This is now undergoing review (possibly to be changed to extreme child abuse or some such nonsense?). How does this stand in other areas?
How does this stand in other areas?
Well, not quite the same thing, but in one episode of The Practice (and who knows how accurate that is) a pregnant woman who was a heavy drug user was going to be charged with administering drugs to a minor. The judge dismissed the case because she thought the charge was outrageous, though, so it most likely wouldn't have stood.
How does this stand in other areas?
Here's an interesting link (if somewhat outdated) that breaks down laws in specific states:http://www.nrlc.org/Whatsnew/sthomicidelaws.htm
it should be noted that the definition of homicide, though, does not at this time include the actions of a mother in exercising her 'right to choose'. clearly, as demonstrated by the pro footballer (i can't think of his name offhand) who was recently charged with a double murder, this privilege does not extend to the fathers.
BTW, what exactly is an "unborn quick child"? anyone?
I agree with wow, "The officer was shot there and later died of his wounds" is the best description of the events. [rant]The issue is not whether the act constituted murder under our laws, which it clearly did. The issue is whether or not that particular location deserves full credit for hosting the action, as in "Ann Bolyn was executed in the Tower of London." In this instance, the sentence implies that the act of killing was carried out to completion in a single place. Likewise, to say "So and So was murdered on this very spot" or words to that effect implies to me that the victim died there. The news reporter was sensationalizing the location. [/end rant]
what exactly is an "unborn quick child"?
Can't give you a technical answer, but "quickening" is the term used to refer to feeling the child move in the womb. I assume, therefore, that an "unborn quick child" would be a pregnancy advanced enough for the mother to be aware of the child's movements.
<<and one additional murder was added to the statistics for the year>>
Returning us to Brandon's original question. That the express difference is temporal is insignificant, since it strongly suggests a change of place.
So where *does* the murder occur, in *both* places?
Well, not quite the same thing, but in one episode of The Practice (and who knows how accurate that is) a pregnant woman who was a heavy drug user was going to be charged with administering drugs to a minor.
In Winnipeg last year there was a very controversial case about a pregnant woman who had a glue-sniffing problem, and whether or not she should be forced into treatment for the sake of the unborn baby. In the end, I believe they did force her into treatment.