White People (just another day in the USA)
Posted by Supun on March 21, 1997 at 02:51:10:

This is supposed to be a true story. don't ask me if it really is.


At the 1994 annual awards dinner given by the American Association for
Forensic Science, AAFS President Don Harper Mills astounded his audience
San Diego with the legal complications of a bizarre death. Here is the

On 23 March 1994, the medical examiner viewed the body of Ronald Opus
concluded that he died from a shotgun wound to the head. The decedent
jumped from the top of a ten-story building intending to commit suicide
left a note indicating his despondency). As he fell past the ninth
floor, his
life was interrupted by a shotgun blast through a window, which killed
instantly. Neither the shooter nor the decedent was aware that a safety
had been erected at the eighth floor level to protect some window
washers and
that Opus would not have been able to complete his suicide anyway
because of

Ordinarily, Dr. Mills continued, a person who sets out to commit suicide
ultimately succeeds, even though the mechanism might not be what he
intended. That Opus was shot on the way to certain death nine stories
probably would not have changed his mode of death from suicide to
But the fact that his suicidal intent would not have been successful
the medical examiner to feel that he had a homicide on his hands. The
on the ninth floor whence the shotgun blast emanated was occupied by an
elderly man and his wife. They were arguing and he was threatening her
the shotgun. He was so upset that, when he pulled the trigger, he
missed his wife and the pellets went through the a window striking Opus.
When one intends to kill subject A but kills subject B in the attempt,
one is
guilty of the murder of subject B.

When confronted with this charge, the old man and his wife were both
that neither knew that the shotgun was loaded. The old man said it was
long-standing habit to threaten his wife with the unloaded shotgun. He
no intention to murder her - therefore, the killing of Opus appeared to
be an
accident. That is, the gun had been accidentally loaded.

The continuing investigation turned up a witness who saw the old
son loading the shotgun approximately six weeks prior to the fatal

It transpired that the old lady had cut off her son's financial support
the son, knowing the propensity of his father to use the shotgun
threateningly, loaded the gun with the expectation that his father would
shoot his mother. The case now becomes one of murder on the part of the
for the death of Ronald Opus.

There was an exquisite twist. Further investigation revealed that the
[Ronald Opus] had become increasingly despondent over the failure of his
attempt to engineer his mother's murder. This led him to jump off the
ten-story building on March 23, only to be killed by a shotgun blast
a ninth story window

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