CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Perceived Necessity, Mitigation, and the Trial of the Abortionist's Killer

The New York Times has the story on the Kansas prosecution, headlined Manslaughter Defense Remains Open Issue in Doctor’s Killing. In part:

In a hearing here, Judge Warren Wilbert of Sedgwick County District Court refused a prosecution request to bar the defendant, Scott Roeder, from presenting evidence that might support a voluntary manslaughter conviction. But the judge did not promise to allow such evidence, stating instead that he would make such decisions on a “witness by witness” basis as the trial, set to begin on Wednesday, goes along.

Under state law, “an unreasonable but honest belief that circumstances existed that justified deadly force” can constitute voluntary manslaughter.

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It seems the judge may be confusing an honest mistake of fact that circumstances existed which we all agree would have justified the defendant’s actions had they existed with an honest normative belief that the circumstances we all agree existed should justify the defendant’s actions. I presume that the former should be an excuse but the latter should not.

Posted by: Jim Mangiafico | Jan 14, 2010 7:15:32 AM

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