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Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Monday, September 4, 2006

Attorney Stabs Man He Suspected of Child Molestation: Case Raises Questions of EED Success

From Last week's arrest of a Connecticut lawyer in the fatal stabbing of a neighbor he allegedly believed had sexually assaulted his 2-year-old daughter has captured the attention of the state's legal community, which has seen several of its members convicted of theft and embezzlement, but few for crimes of passion.

In the days after Fairfield patent attorney Jonathon Edington's Aug. 28 arrest in the slaying of Barry James, the intrigue over the alleged murder turned to questions over Edington's possible defense strategy. To M. Hatcher "Reese" Norris, of Butler Norris & Gold in Hartford, Edington's case is strongly reminiscent of one he had 14 years ago, where evidence of Extreme Emotional Disturbance convinced the prosecutor to let the defendant plead to manslaughter.

EED, a rarely successful statutory affirmative defense available only in murder cases, permits defendants to be found guilty of manslaughter if they can show that, at the time of the crime, they were so overwhelmed by a triggering event that they could not conform to the requirements of the law, New Haven Public Defender Thomas Ullmann explained. Successful EED defenses don't permit acquittals -- only a reduction to manslaughter.  Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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