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Tags Grace Millane , murder cases , New Zealand cases

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Old 6th November 2019, 08:01 AM   #1
Rolfe
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Grace Millane murder - do we believe the accused?

Grace Millane was on a round-the-world backpacking trip following her graduation. By December last year she was in New Zealand. It was her 22nd birthday and she hooked up with a guy (the unnamed accused) and they went on a pub-crawl. Later they went back to his flat for (he claimed) consensual sex.

He strangled her.

He took photos of her dead body, he watched pornography, and he carried out some internet searches apparently relating to disposal of the body. He hired a carpet cleaner, and a car, and bought cleaning products. He also hooked up with someone else on Tinder for a date later that day. He got her body into the suitcase and buried it somewhere in the bush.

His initial story was that she asked him to strangle her and he didn't realise she was dead and thought she had left the flat. He only found her body when he woke up in the morning. At what point in this saga the photographing is supposed to have happened I'm not sure.

He's obviously complete scum. I don't think anybody is going to believe that he didn't realise she was dead until the morning. His behaviour suggests a complete psychopath, with no sign of distress at the death of his date. But I'm curious. Did he really take her home intending to kill her, or did he simply push his penchant for abusive sex futher than he intended? I also wonder at what point this moves from culpable homicide to murder.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/20...er-tinder-date
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Old 6th November 2019, 09:13 AM   #2
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Even if we believe him, it shouldn't be a defense. This "sex game gone wrong" loophole for murder needs to be closed. If you're choking someone "consensually," it's your ******* duty to make sure you don't kill them. If they say "harder," there's no reason you can't reply, "no, that's hard enough."

I don't believe him, for what it's worth, but my opinion doesn't matter in that regard.I believe he got off on murdering her. He may not have set out with a plan to do that, but he got excited and crossed the line at some point. I base this theory on his unconscionable behavior afterward.
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Old 6th November 2019, 09:18 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by isissxn View Post
Even if we believe him, it shouldn't be a defense. This "sex game gone wrong" loophole for murder needs to be closed.
Wait, there are such loopholes? Why???
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Old 6th November 2019, 09:36 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
Wait, there are such loopholes? Why???
I don't think they are officially written in, but people have gotten softer sentences as a result of using the "she wanted it, rough sex" defense. Here's the example from last year that started me researching the trend.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/u...-a8678001.html

That guy got convicted of manslaughter. He got 3 years and 8 months. Read the details of what he did to her.


ETA - Here's another article commenting on the general problem. It's from New Zealand, and focuses more on rape cases than murder. It's the same idea, though, and I have other relevant murder cases bookmarked somewhere in my messy list. I will post them later. I'm supposed to be working. https://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/1...w-rape-defence

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Old 6th November 2019, 09:43 AM   #5
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I'm not sure that's a loophole. It seems to me that the law should provide for people doing risky stuff consensually, and seeing it go wrong, without having to call it murder.

Why is it important to you that we treat risky but consensual sex games as attempted murder?
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Old 6th November 2019, 09:49 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I'm not sure that's a loophole. It seems to me that the law should provide for people doing risky stuff consensually, and seeing it go wrong, without having to call it murder.

Why is it important to you that we treat risky but consensual sex games as attempted murder?
There are several reasons, some of which are probably more debatable than others, depending on one's own views. The primary reason is that I believe it is the "dom's" duty in these instances to pay attention to what he/she is doing. If you're going to inflict insanely rough BDSM on a sexual partner, you have an extra duty of care. You must go out of your way to make sure you aren't going too far. I don't care how horny you are. Their life is your hands. Act like it. I believe the law should reflect that.

In some of these cases, however, I simply don't believe it was ever consensual to begin with. I believe some of these cases were intentional brutal murders. But that's not actually relevant to my main reasoning, so treat it as the side note it is.

ETA - What I mean by that last bit is, if the law treated that duty of care in BDSM as basically sacrosanct, then "rough sex gone wrong" wouldn't be any kind of defense for intentional murder anyway.

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Old 6th November 2019, 09:58 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I'm not sure that's a loophole. It seems to me that the law should provide for people doing risky stuff consensually, and seeing it go wrong, without having to call it murder.

Why is it important to you that we treat risky but consensual sex games as attempted murder?
Because it would allow people to get away with murder.
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Old 6th November 2019, 10:02 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop View Post
Because it would allow people to get away with murder.
Any time an intentional death looks sufficiently accidental, someone gets away with murder. What makes rough sex a special case, compared to any other risky pastime that people commonly engage in consensually?

Do we need to close the similar "loophole" in workplace accidents? When a patient dies on an operating table, is there a loophole there that needs to be closed?
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Old 6th November 2019, 10:07 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Any time an intentional death looks sufficiently accidental, someone gets away with murder. What makes rough sex a special case, compared to any other risky pastime that people commonly engage in consensually?

Do we need to close the similar "loophole" in workplace accidents? When a patient dies on an operating table, is there a loophole there that needs to be closed?
Okay, if you don't see a difference then you don't see a difference. I'm surprised, but I don't feel like continuing to discuss it. I think I explained my reasoning. Some will agree, and some apparently won't.
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Old 6th November 2019, 10:13 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by isissxn View Post
In some of these cases, however, I simply don't believe it was ever consensual to begin with.
I don't know. In the first case you linked to the former wife seem to confirm that they were into that kind of stuff. It's clear that it's criminal negligeance, but it's not clear to me that it was murder.

The OP, however, is a different story.
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Old 6th November 2019, 10:17 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
I don't know. In the first case you linked to the former wife seem to confirm that they were into that kind of stuff. It's clear that it's criminal negligeance, but it's not clear to me that it was murder.

The OP, however, is a different story.
I guess I just think that no matter what you are into, you can't be punching someone repeatedly and shoving bottles of cleaning fluid up their ass and then say it was an accident when they died. I guess I'm just a prude.
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Old 6th November 2019, 10:29 AM   #12
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She was strangled until blood poured from her nose. So he must have noticed all was not well. As for his claim she had been into erotic strangulation with her ex-long term boyfriend: bring him to court to testify one way or another.
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Old 6th November 2019, 10:33 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by isissxn View Post
I guess I just think that no matter what you are into, you can't be punching someone repeatedly and shoving bottles of cleaning fluid up their ass and then say it was an accident when they died. I guess I'm just a prude.
Why not? People die from skydiving mishaps, and rock climbing mishaps. People die from workplace accidents. Why not from sex accidents? The only difference seems to be your prudishness. This is probably a bad reason to make a murder law about it.

Especially since it's not even murder in the sense of deliberate, intentionally killing. You're taking the heinousness of intentionally killing someone, and applying it to something else, because the something else makes you feel icky. I'd rather not expand the legal definition of murder, and the serious legal consequences of murder, to include other things that some people feel icky about.

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Old 6th November 2019, 11:28 AM   #14
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So you strangle someone to death and then just say it was a sex game gone wrong. Who is to gainsay you? the only witness is dead.
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Old 6th November 2019, 11:32 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Why not? People die from skydiving mishaps, and rock climbing mishaps. People die from workplace accidents. Why not from sex accidents? The only difference seems to be your prudishness. This is probably a bad reason to make a murder law about it.

Especially since it's not even murder in the sense of deliberate, intentionally killing. You're taking the heinousness of intentionally killing someone, and applying it to something else, because the something else makes you feel icky. I'd rather not expand the legal definition of murder, and the serious legal consequences of murder, to include other things that some people feel icky about.
Do you think that it's possible to kill someone during a sex game without getting any indication that you're going too far beforehand? I don't, in most situations. Choking or beating someone to death is usually not an instantaneous process. I think the dom should be required to be aware of these things. I don't think they should get any special leeway if they fail to do so.

Now, if two people are enjoying some wild game that involves (say) a sex swing, and the swing breaks and the person cracks their head open, then I don't think their partner should be nailed to the wall. But we're talking about chokings and beatings. I'm sorry, but it's difficult for me to imagine how that can happen accidentally without the actor getting any indication that things are getting out of hand.

I think you know what I mean. Do you really not agree at all, even a little, in certain scenarios? What is your opinion?
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Old 6th November 2019, 12:09 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop View Post
So you strangle someone to death and then just say it was a sex game gone wrong. Who is to gainsay you? the only witness is dead.
So you mis-pack your buddy's parachute so he falls to his death, and then just say it was a skydiving accident. Who is to gainsay you?

It's a bad idea to call things murder just because you can't figure out whether it was murder or not.
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Old 6th November 2019, 12:18 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
Wait, there are such loopholes? Why???
It's been asserted in a previous murder:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Chambers_(criminal)

Police were given Chambers' name by patrons at Dorrian's Red Hand bar, who had seen him leaving with Levin. When authorities arrived to question him at his home, he had fresh scratches on his face and arms, which he initially said were "cat scratches". He was taken in for questioning.

Chambers changed his story several times: "his cat had been declawed"; he "didn't part from Levin immediately upon leaving the bar"; "she had parted from him to purchase cigarettes" (it was later discovered that Levin did not smoke). In the final version of his confession, he claimed that some time after he and Levin had left the bar, she had asked him for "rough sex", tied the 6 ft 5 in (196 cm) Chambers' hands with her panties, and hurt his genitals as she stimulated him, and that she had been killed accidentally when he freed his hands and pushed her off him.


...

Chambers was charged with, and tried for, two counts of second-degree murder. His defense was that Levin's death had occurred during "rough sex". He was defended by Jack T. Litman, who had previously used the temporary insanity defense on behalf of Richard Herrin for the murder of Yale University student Bonnie Garland. Prosecutor Linda Fairstein stated: "In more than 8,000 cases of reported assaults in the last 10 years, this is the first in which a male reported being sexually assaulted by a female."[7] The case popularized the strategy later colloquially termed the "rough sex defense". The defense sought to depict Levin as a promiscuous woman who kept a "sex diary"; however, no such diary existed. Levin, instead, kept a small notebook that contained the names and phone numbers of her friends and notations of ordinary appointments. Such tactics were met with public outrage, with protesters (some calling themselves "Justice for Jennifer") demonstrating outside the courtroom.

With the jury deadlocked for nine days, a plea bargain was struck in which Chambers pleaded guilty to the lesser crime of manslaughter in the first degree, and to one count of burglary for his thefts in 1986. He was sentenced to serve 5 to 15 years, with the sentence for burglary being served concurrently.
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Old 6th November 2019, 12:44 PM   #18
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The trial judge Simon Moore prosecuted Neville Walker and Renee Chignall for the alleged murder of Peter Plumley Walker 3 times in the nineties, which speaks to the inherent difficulty in persuading 12 people that only one version is possible in sex misadventure.

https://www.noted.co.nz/currently/cu...s-mercy-review

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Old 6th November 2019, 12:56 PM   #19
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I've never understood the beating or strangling thing during sex. I always thought "rough sex" just meant unusually vigorous sex, but I guess I was wrong.

I can see both Prestige's and Isissxn points of view in a theoretical light.

In the US, the prosecution is supposed to prove the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. For murder, I guess part of that is intent. I'm not sure it's a good idea in the big picture to relax that requirement.

At the same time, It creates a path to murdering a significant other with a lesser sentence. Of course, using that defense would actually make it harder to completely get away with it.
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Old 6th November 2019, 12:57 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by isissxn View Post
I guess I just think that no matter what you are into, you can't be punching someone repeatedly and shoving bottles of cleaning fluid up their ass and then say it was an accident when they died. I guess I'm just a prude.
No need to be snarky. I'm saying that the idea that he wasn't trying to kill her isn't far-fetched.
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Old 6th November 2019, 01:35 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
No need to be snarky. I'm saying that the idea that he wasn't trying to kill her isn't far-fetched.
It actually wasn't intended to be snarky, but reading it over now, it's extremely snarky, yeah. Sorry about that. I was trying to be pithy with just a garnish of persuasive sarcasm. Missed the mark.
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Old 6th November 2019, 01:47 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by TomB View Post
I've never understood the beating or strangling thing during sex. I always thought "rough sex" just meant unusually vigorous sex, but I guess I was wrong.

I can see both Prestige's and Isissxn points of view in a theoretical light.

In the US, the prosecution is supposed to prove the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. For murder, I guess part of that is intent. I'm not sure it's a good idea in the big picture to relax that requirement.

At the same time, It creates a path to murdering a significant other with a lesser sentence. Of course, using that defense would actually make it harder to completely get away with it.
I definitely see theprestige's point about intent. It's not like I think every "rough sex" death is a deliberate murder. I don't think that. I do think that many of them go a bit beyond "accident," however, because in choking and beating cases (for example), the dom should conceivably be able to see that things are getting out of control before anyone is actually dead. If he/she fails to notice this, I think that situation is worse than other types of fatal accidents that have been referenced in this thread, even if he/she did not have any actual intent to kill. Don't choke and beat someone if you can't do it safely and while paying continual attention to your sub's state. That is an agonizing death, and it should carry more of a penalty than plain old mishaps.


ETA - I don't "get" the hardcore stuff either, TomB. It seems very bizarre and frightening to me. However, I don't let that fact control what I believe other people should be able to do, contrary to how I may have initially come across. People get their jollies in all sorts of ways, and I don't begrudge them that. I just think that if you're into doing dangerous, unconventional ****, you need to be really sure that you know what you're doing and you're looking out for your partner's safety. The crazier your fantasy, the more that principle needs to be applied.

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Old 6th November 2019, 01:54 PM   #23
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I got us off-topic from the OP, though. I'm sorry.
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Old 6th November 2019, 02:36 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I'm not sure that's a loophole. It seems to me that the law should provide for people doing risky stuff consensually, and seeing it go wrong, without having to call it murder.

Why is it important to you that we treat risky but consensual sex games as attempted murder?
Because it is a loophole for killers. Just like any other risky behavior; people can do it themselves, but if you do it to them, face responsibility. Why shouldn't you?

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Old 7th November 2019, 02:10 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by MRC_Hans View Post
Because it is a loophole for killers. Just like any other risky behavior; people can do it themselves, but if you do it to them, face responsibility. Why shouldn't you?

Hans
You shouldn't, but that's what the crime of involuntary manslaughter is - killing someone due to a reckless and negligent act but without the specific intention of killing them. It's not a loophole; it's fundamental to the definition of murder that it involves intent. The job of the court, presumably, is to determine whether the defence of lack of intent is valid, and to judge on that basis between murder and manslaughter. In this case, on the basis of what incomplete information I've seen, it seems unlikely that they'll buy the accused's story.

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Old 7th November 2019, 02:17 AM   #26
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It appears the pair were extremely drunk when they headed back to his hotel room (it was her birthday next day). I notice in the cctv footage the snake takes the opportunity to rummage through her handbag whilst she goes to the Ladies.

Note the ultra tight trousers covering his fat legs and overweight torso. That is a crime against clothes!
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Old 7th November 2019, 03:46 AM   #27
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I have been following it a little bit in the media here. I can't see him walking away from this, the cover up speaks far too much towards guilt. Sadly he's probably not going to get anything higher than 18 years at most.
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Old 11th November 2019, 12:57 AM   #28
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There is a pattern of choking for heightened arousal, worked well for one date but not another, and was clearly fatal for Grace. He looks a big unit.

https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/a...ectid=12284186.
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Old 11th November 2019, 07:01 AM   #29
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Sorry I started the ball rolling and then just left it! That was a very interesting article Samson. I suppose I'm fairly gobsmacked in general at the "dating" practices of today's young people.

I came across this other article from back in the summer. The case highlighted at the start of that has many similarities with the Millane case.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/...ing-during-sex

Vicky Wynne Jones was actually murdered by her husband, and he also fell back on the "sex game gone wrong" defence, and again it was his behaviour afterwards that was so damning. Like the Millane accused he his the body and tried to cover up the killing, and he was also having affairs. There is a suggestion in that case that there might not have been any sex game at all and that it was a premeditated murder because Vicky had found out about the other women.

In the Millane case I don't think he invited her to his flat intending to kill her. I think the body-disposal would have been better prepared-for and better thought-through if that had been the case. And I think he was really into strangulation during sex, as these other dates of his seem to indicate - although to what extent they are all telling the full and honest truth I don't know. I'm still waiting for any evidence that Grace was a willing partner in the strangulation though, I suppose some evidence may well come out about that later.

I suppose in general I agree with isissxn, with the caveat that whether or not she agreed to be strangled might be quite an important point.

Originally Posted by isissxn View Post
I believe he got off on murdering her. He may not have set out with a plan to do that, but he got excited and crossed the line at some point. I base this theory on his unconscionable behavior afterward.

But if it was an "accidental" killing during a sexual encounter, however non-consensual, and he didn't actually intend to kill her, is that actually murder? And if it isn't, then does his attempt to conceal the body turn it into murder?
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Old 11th November 2019, 07:27 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
Sorry I started the ball rolling and then just left it! That was a very interesting article Samson. I suppose I'm fairly gobsmacked in general at the "dating" practices of today's young people.

I came across this other article from back in the summer. The case highlighted at the start of that has many similarities with the Millane case.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/...ing-during-sex

Vicky Wynne Jones was actually murdered by her husband, and he also fell back on the "sex game gone wrong" defence, and again it was his behaviour afterwards that was so damning. Like the Millane accused he his the body and tried to cover up the killing, and he was also having affairs. There is a suggestion in that case that there might not have been any sex game at all and that it was a premeditated murder because Vicky had found out about the other women.

In the Millane case I don't think he invited her to his flat intending to kill her. I think the body-disposal would have been better prepared-for and better thought-through if that had been the case. And I think he was really into strangulation during sex, as these other dates of his seem to indicate - although to what extent they are all telling the full and honest truth I don't know. I'm still waiting for any evidence that Grace was a willing partner in the strangulation though, I suppose some evidence may well come out about that later.

I suppose in general I agree with isissxn, with the caveat that whether or not she agreed to be strangled might be quite an important point.




But if it was an "accidental" killing during a sexual encounter, however non-consensual, and he didn't actually intend to kill her, is that actually murder? And if it isn't, then does his attempt to conceal the body turn it into murder?
Concealing a body and preventing a burial is a crime in its own right. Murder only applies to method of death.

Having a suitcase large enough to conceal the body of a slightly overweight woman could indicate forethought.
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Old 11th November 2019, 09:23 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by Vixen View Post
Concealing a body and preventing a burial is a crime in its own right.

That's perfectly true. Although I'm unaware of any of the people convicted of murdering someone and then hiding the body actually being convicted and sentenced for that as a separate crime. David Gilroy, Ian Simms, James Dunleavy and Nat Fraser are the ones I can think of off the top of my head. Does anyone have any information to the contrary?

Originally Posted by Vixen View Post
Murder only applies to method of death.

Does anyone actually know if this is true? Certainly in the Gilroy case he could have made a good defence to get the crime down to culpable homicide. However he chose to deny all knowledge of what had happened to the victim so that defence was obviously denied to him. I'm not entirely sure how that works.

Originally Posted by Vixen View Post
Having a suitcase large enough to conceal the body of a slightly overweight woman could indicate forethought.

I'm pretty sure having a large suitcase isn't evedence of premeditation unless it was acquired very shortly before the killing.
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Old 11th November 2019, 12:10 PM   #32
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Here is a quite detailed audio report of this woman's evidence, a month before Grace died. I am sure it will be as perplexing to the jury as it is to us. I might attend this morning to hear her finish.

https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/progr...ence-continues
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Old 11th November 2019, 12:18 PM   #33
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I'll say the same thing I said in the "Oopsie daisy wrong apartment my bad" cop shooting thread.

If the "accident" is functionally the same as just committing the act and lying about it after the fact it's still murder.

As in if this man did just straight up strangle this woman what would objectively different from an outside perspective?

Nothing? Then it's a distinction without difference.

Letting "Oh silly me I made a mistake" into the legal system with zero way of disproving it turns the entire criminal justice system into basically asking people "Hey do you want to be considered a criminal?" and having to take their word for it.
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Old 11th November 2019, 12:50 PM   #34
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I'm not sure the legal distinction is framed like that. Murder requires a mens rea, an intention to commit the act. If the accused succeeds in creating reasonable doubt in the minds of the jury that he had the mens rea, then as far as I know it's not murder.

I don't think there was premeditation here, and I have a great deal of doubt as to whether there was actual mens rea even for the instant it takes for that to happen. However I have a lot of sympathy with the view that says, if the negligence that led to the death was extreme then it's arguable that it should be murder. It's just that I don't think that's what the law says. I think the law would put it on the high end of culpable homicide and perhaps the sentence might be comparable to a murder sentence. Maybe we're talking about how we think the law ought to be as opposed to how it actually is.
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Old 11th November 2019, 03:30 PM   #35
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I think it's more probable that he was recklessly indifferent as to whether he harmed/killed her than that he planned to do so. Once the indifference reaches a certain level I don't know that there is that much distinction morally between not caring whether you are harming somebody or not and intentionally harming them.

I don't see how the actions afterwards could make it murder, but it might cause the jury to be likely to see it that way - that is, attempting to conceal what happened could be taken as an indication of guilt.
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Old 11th November 2019, 03:38 PM   #36
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The pathologist explains that post mortem bruising is very hard to create due to absence of blood pressure in the veins. Prior to the morning break he describes pre mortem bruising 8 cm by 10cm to the neck area above the shoulder, and also bruising to the inner left arm.

The female witness was cross examined by defence then reexamined by prosecution. There are very strict requirements to not make observations that could lead to her identification, but she was extremely credible, articulate, and made an extended oration at the end explaining she never approached the police, and did not want to be there.
I am left doubting the wisdom of the defence strategy to suggest she was making it all up, indeed if all she said was true it paints a picture of an insecure man, who had a great job at first encounter, but no job at the second. The 708 text messages are explained by a wish to engage at a level where he would not turn up unexpectedly when she was with other friends.

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Old 12th November 2019, 09:49 AM   #37
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Originally Posted by Elaedith View Post
I think it's more probable that he was recklessly indifferent as to whether he harmed/killed her than that he planned to do so. Once the indifference reaches a certain level I don't know that there is that much distinction morally between not caring whether you are harming somebody or not and intentionally harming them.

I don't see how the actions afterwards could make it murder, but it might cause the jury to be likely to see it that way - that is, attempting to conceal what happened could be taken as an indication of guilt.
This is basically what I was trying to say in all my earlier wittering on.

I think my personal disgust with these types of activities may have come through and clouded my message. I didn't mean for that to happen. There are lots of things that disgust me that I still believe should be perfectly legal and acceptable for people who like them.
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Old 12th November 2019, 11:01 AM   #38
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I think he's going down.

He might be telling the truth about what happened, but he appears to have lied so much before and after the event that the jury might well just decide that whatever he says is just as likely to be a lie as the truth and disregard everything, which just leaves the evidence that he killed her, which is irrefutable.
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Old 12th November 2019, 12:41 PM   #39
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I think you're right, unless there's a specific point of law that is explained to the jury whereby lack of mens rea or something like that gets him out of a murder conviction. It's possible the jury might decide that mens rea wasn't present. I kind of hope it doesn't come down to that, because the vengeful harpy part of me says he needs to go down for murder.
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Old 12th November 2019, 02:02 PM   #40
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The rest of the pathologist cross was essentially
1. There was no preexisting condition apparent, she was a normal healthy 22 year old
2. Her blood alcohol was 122 mg per liter
3. There was no damage to bones
4. There was a deep internal bruise about 8 by 6 cm present only on the left side of the throat.
5. Sustained pressure for 4 to 5 minutes would be needed to cause death.
6. Similar coloured bruises were constrained to both inner arms suggesting solid restraint.
7. Fingernail scrapings were taken but no data was presented in court. Conclusion, no accused dna found to suggest she was fighting him off.
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