Child Abuse Goes Unpunished As Existing Laws Allow Murder of Children to Occur

Child Abuse, Murder and Honour Killings

Some horrendous cases of child abuse go unpunished as authorities fail to see the danger or even investigate complaints lodged. This is the problem in so many recent murders of children in Australia and the United States.

From the time of birth many infants face abuse and retaliation from one or both parents who are inept at caring for them or even loving them. The problem has certainly worsened in recent years as people chase after money, fame and fortune and the kids simply get in the way. Fathers who are absent more than they are at home may retaliate against their wives who eventually divorce them and get custody of their children.

There are now incidences where fathers have been tried and found guilty of some rather horrendous murders. These range from drowning their children in mock car accidents to take revenge on ex-wives to the honour killing of girls who dare to show affection for boys not of their religion. One mother wanted desperately to get into the Olympics and is probably guilty of disposing of as many as three infants but has been found guilty of murdering just one of them.

Drugs are big in the picture of child abuse and many infants born to drug addicts have to face withdrawal soon after birth. Parents of this nature are allowed to keep their children even though there is a huge risk of abuse. One such couple got joy from tossing their baby up to the ceiling and watching it crash to the floor. The little body was broken into pieces and the bruising tells of the horror.

Overpopulation is another elephant in the room. Parents may struggle to maintain large families when the wife is almost constantly pregnant. In many religions contraceptives and family planning are banned or ignored and authorities are helpless to stop the production of unwanted children.

So where does control of these situations start and end? Who is to blame when children known to authorities are murdered or at best bashed and broken? Why are we not crying out for laws to be changed to stop some parents even having children when it is obvious from the beginning that they cannot cope with the burden of rearing them? Why are so many young teenagers now bearing children and destroying their lives as governments support them with money?

These are questions responsible citizens must ask and we need answers.

Making a Murderer, Anonymous and Trial by Social Media

The online audience is a powerful entity. We are now fairly accustomed to getting what we want. Companies ask for our input in creating the products we would like to see. We can customise our own t-shirts and mugs. We made a Veronica Mars movie happen, we revived Arrested Development, we bought a chunk of the Abel Tasman. Activism is literally at our fingertips. When we hashtag, it trends. When we speak, the decision-makers listen.

Now we would like to determine guilt and innocence.

A well informed public is not a bad thing. A politically active, vocal population is not a bad thing. Mob justice is a bad thing.

Netflix hit docu-soap Making a Murderer aims to point up corruption in the judicial system. It exposes systemic failures caused by human error and prejudice. It reminds us that the law is fallible when corruption is allowed to flourish. The problem here is that the public reaction was a desire to circumvent ‘the process’ altogether, exoneration by petition. We can’t determine guilt or innocence via public opinion, especially when we’re getting our information through a skewed source.

And in the age of change.org and KONY2012, we’re not content to simply discuss the case as entertainment. This is happening right now, and we’re accustomed to being able to exert some authority over our on-screen narratives. We want our new favourite show to end in a way we’ll enjoy. And so we unite for action, bring power to the people.

In January 2016, a petition calling for a presidential pardon for Steven Avery and his nephew, Brendan Dassey, reached the required 100,000 signatures. Although it seems the pardon isn’t applicable in this case, it demonstrates the strength of our collective conviction that it’s our role to circumvent the legal process.

Carried away on a wave of righteous indignation, we use our keyboards to seek a raw form of justice. We don’t want the slow gears of appeals and motions, we want to cut through the red tape and bring down the guilty.

The problem is, no person, or unregulated group of people, gets to be judge, jury and executioner. We have these complex institutions for a reason; accountability. Within each branch of our legal systems, there are safeguards, scrutiny, paperwork, reviews. There are processes in place to prevent abuses like those that have occurred in the Avery/Dassey case, so that these things are aberrant and only happen when there is a large-scale collusion. There are also processes to correct and punish when miscarriages do occur.

But all that moves too slowly to soothe our moral outrage. This is the same corner-cutting mentality makes online crusades like Anonymous problematic. In collective structures like Anonymous, there is no editor, no fact checker, no safeguards. It’s a beautiful idea; true transparency, freedom of information, abolishing bureaucracy. Except that people are emotional and trigger-happy, and when we start seeing ourselves as Batman, problems arise. Here’s some examples:

Steubenville, January, 2013. After the rape of a high school girl, an Anonymous subsidiary, LocalLeaks, releases damning footage of a former Steubenville High student joking about the rape. However, they also release false information about the case and the rape victim’s name. The anon at the head of the operation shrugs it off as full disclosure.

The treatment of Jon Belmar, Chief of the St. Louis Police Department, in the wake of the Ferguson shooting. Twitter account TheAnonMessage ‘doxxes’ Belmar, tweeting contact details and photographs of his family to an enraged public when he declines to name the shooter.

Shortly afterwards, self-appointed social media investigators release their conclusions that Michael Brown’s shooter was a man named Bryan Willman. Willman is in fact a dispatcher from another state. His photo and personal details (some inaccurate) are circulated online by Anonymous. Willman’s social media accounts are flooded with so many threats that he shuts them down. He stays in his house for six days, on ‘lockdown’.

There’s also the infamous overzealous misidentification of Boston bombing suspects, and the young Australian man who was falsely identified online as a bomber in an attack in Bangkok last year. These are some of the largest scale instances of false information and irresponsible vigilantism, but there are plenty more.

And these were attempts at justice, however misguided. Similarly passionate demands for justice have been provoked by Making a Murderer. The Yelp page of Ken Kratz’s law firm has been effectively wiped clean after a torrent of abuse from disgusted viewers. Massive online communities like Reddit have fostered rumours and speculation about the identity of Teresa Halbach’s killer, rumours which will likely dog Bobby Dassey, Scott Tadych, Ryan Hillegas and Mike Halbach indefinitely. In a more extreme reaction, a bomb threat was called in at the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department on February 3rd in the name of “getting justice” for Steven Avery (1). And there were even rumours that Anonymous themselves were taking up Avery’s cause.

It can be easy to forget that in documentary film-making, our perceptions are always being manipulated. Documentary can even be more dangerous than other media, because it presents itself as impartial fact, when in fact it is filmed, edited, scored and structured to make us see and feel a certain way. Making a Murderer has an agenda, however well-intentioned, and tells a distinctly one-sided story. It certainly exposes questionable police conduct and is often shocking and frustrating, but there is plenty that the series omits. Avery’s new lawyer Kathleen Zellner has clearly recognised the power of the masses, and has been extremely active with publishing new information about the case via Twitter with the hashtag ‘#makingamurderer’. But is Twitter really the place to look for justice? Haven’t we seen enough damage done by these online witchhunts? Calls for greater scrutiny and fairness in government are always valid, but we are spectators and it isn’t our job to interpret evidence or to allocate blame.

According to James Surowiecki, the very nature of the ‘network’ (ie online communities and social media) creates a risk of groupthink. “Collective intelligence… requires a form of independent thinking. And networks make it harder for people to do that, because they drive attention to the things that the network values… once an idea gets going, it is very easy for people to just sort of pile on, because other people have, say, a link. People have linked to it, and so other people in turn link to it, etc., etc. And that phenomenon of piling on the existing links is one that is characteristic of the blogosphere, particularly of the political blogosphere” (2).

While freedom of speech is essential to democracy, the problem with the internet is that anybody can use a highly visible platform to say whatever they want, enjoying ease and anonymity, not being filtered or fact-checked before they are published, and with no guarantee of being held accountable for their words. Like most other things, the criminal justice system doesn’t work when it is abused. And, like Avery says, poor people lose all the time. But that is the result of a larger, societal issue, not restricted to this branch of government. And it doesn’t mean that trial by social media is a preferable alternative. The internet is an environment that proves the power and danger of ideas, of names. And an accusation as weighty as murder, or shooting an unarmed man, or planting a bomb in public space, demands methodical examination, compelling evidence and liability.

A passion for justice is admirable, but justice by nature needs to be dispassionate and impartial. There must be an objective, complex system in place. Or else, amidst all the shouting, finger-pointing and righteous indignation, we will commit the very injustices we want to prevent.

(1) http://www.thewrap.com/8-making-a-murderer-updates-since-steven-avery-got-a-new-lawyer/

(2) https://www.ted.com/talks/james_surowiecki_on_the_turning_point_for_social_media?language=en

Arizona Murder Charges

There is no crime more serious in the eyes of the law in any jurisdiction than murder, and Arizona is no different.  Murder creates a public outrage, and as a result of this pressure, the state legislature has historically added extremely tough language to the statutes that govern the different types of murder charges, most significantly in terms of the punishments available to the court upon a conviction.

Below is a brief overview of the different homicide charges in Arizona. If you face such a charge, contact a criminal defense attorney immediately to schedule a consultation. You will need a game plan.

Homicide Charges in Arizona

Below is a brief list of the different homicide charges in Arizona:

First Degree Murder – A person commits first degree murder if:

1. Intending or knowing that the person’s conduct will cause death, the person causes the death of another person, including an unborn child, with premeditation or, as a result of causing the death of another person with premeditation, causes the death of an unborn child.

Second Degree Murder – A person commits second degree murder if without premeditation:

1. The person intentionally causes the death of another person, including an unborn child or, as a result of intentionally causing the death of another person, causes the death of an unborn child.

Manslaughter – A person commits manslaughter by:

1. Recklessly causing the death of another person; or

2. Committing second degree murder as defined in section 13-1104, subsection A upon a sudden quarrel or heat of passion resulting from adequate provocation by the victim; or

3. Intentionally aiding another to commit suicide;

Penalties

Clearly, the worse the offense upon which the defendant is convicted, the more serious the punishment will be.  For instance, if a person is convicted of first degree murder, the death penalty is available for prosecutors.  Otherwise, the defendant could face life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted of murder.

In terms of manslaughter, the convicted defendant could face up to 21 years in prison if convicted, and a defendant almost never walks away without prison time attached to a conviction in Arizona. 

Murder, Manslaughter or Infanticide – Culpable Homicide Under Canadian Law

This article is a simplified description, in layperson’s terms, of the law of homicide in Canada. For the actual applicable law, please consult the Criminal Code of Canada.

In Canada, criminally blameworthy homicide is either murder, manslaughter or infanticide. Homicide that does not fit into one of these categories is not a crime.

Infanticide occurs when a female person causes the death of her newly born child when her mind is disturbed as a result of the effects of giving birth.

The maximum sentence for infanticide is five years in jail. There is no minimum sentence.

Manslaughter occurs when a person causes the death of another by means of an unlawful act but did not intend to kill the victim. A classic example of manslaughter is the scenario of a punch causing the victim to fall down striking his or her head on a curb, the latter impact causing death. There is an unlawful act, the assault, but no intention to cause death.

In certain circumstances, manslaughter can be found when deliberately fatal blows are inflicted as a result of a physical or mental shock to one’s system. In Canadian law, this concept is known as provocation. Legal provocation can reduce what might otherwise be the crime of murder to manslaughter.

In rare circumstances, the crime of murder can be reduced to manslaughter if the consumption of alcohol or other intoxicants has affected the mental processes of the perpetrator.

As a very general statement, it is correct to say that all criminally blameworthy homicide that does not constitute murder, is manslaughter. This broad concept may capture fact situations other than those discussed above under this heading.

The maximum sentence for manslaughter is life in prison. Unless a firearm is involved, there is no minimum sentence.

Murder occurs when a person intentionally causes the death of another or intentionally inflicts bodily harm that he or she knows is likely to cause death and is not acting in the course of self defence or the defence of another as defined by law. Murder may be either first degree murder or second degree murder.

First degree murder occurs in the following circumstances:

• If the murder is planned and deliberate;

• If the victim is a peace officer or prison guard;

• If the murder is caused in the course of a hijacking, sexual assault or kidnapping;

• If the murder is caused in the course of criminally harassing another (for example, stalking);

• If the murder is caused in the course of terrorist activity;

• If the murder is caused as part of the activities of a criminal organization;

• If the murder is caused in the course of intimidating a group of persons or the general public, in order to impede the administration of justice, in the course of intimidating a justice system participant or in the course of intimidating a journalist for the purpose of attempting to dissuade that journalist from disseminating information about a criminal organization;

• Any murder, if the perpetrator has previously been convicted of murder.

The sentence for first degree murder is life imprisonment with no parole for at least 25 years (different sentencing rules exist for persons under the age of 18 years).

Second degree murder is all murder that is not first degree murder. Generally speaking, second degree murder is a deliberate killing that occurs without planning and does not involve any of the victims or circumstances listed above under first degree murder.

The sentence for second degree murder is life imprisonment with no parole for a least ten years or any such higher number between then and twenty five years, as decided by a judge (different sentencing rules exist for persons under the age of 18 years).

If Someone Murders A Pregnant Women They Are Charged With 2-Murders – Abortion Debate

The other day, I was talking with a left-leaning socialist individual, and I had indicated that I am a libertarian leaning right, therefore generally vote on the Republican side. I am leaning right on the political spectrum not because of religious reasons, but rather because I am against socialism, and I believe in free-market capitalism as I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was 12 years old. Nevertheless, the left-leaning socialist individual wanted to debate with me the issue of abortion, supposedly the primary issue to Republicans he believes. He said he couldn’t support Mitt Romney because he didn’t want women to have the right to choose.

The reality is that this issue had already been decided by the Supreme Court long ago, and it is highly unlikely that Roe V Wade will ever be overturned. It is amazing that the Democrats attempted to scare people into thinking that if Romney was elected president, that he would put people on the Supreme Court to challenge that case. That is absurd, and if you look at Governor Romney’s record while he was running Massachusetts you will see that he never worked against the rights of women or individuals, even if the left tried to brand him as a right wing radical religious politician.

Personally, I do think we do have some problems with our laws in this country when it comes to the definition of what an unborn person is. Consider if you will that if someone murders a pregnant woman, typically the District Attorney will charge them with two murders instead of one. This obviously assumes that the unborn baby is a person, and would have been born, but was killed. Yet at the same time we allow mothers to choose to abort their unborn fetus, and see nothing wrong with that.

Why do we allow the law to work to different ways in this case?

If the unborn fetus is not considered by definition a person and therefore can be aborted, then it isn’t a person in the first point of contention; if someone murders the mother. Thus, why should a murder be charged twice. Now then, please understand I have no use for murders, especially those who would attempt to kill a pregnant mother, that’s the most unacceptable thing that could ever occur. Nevertheless we seem to have a schizophrenic set of laws here, and a whole bunch of people who seem to be okay with it. Why the double standard?

My left-leaning socialist friend agreed that someone should be charged with two murders, if someone killed a pregnant mother only because it is completely appalling, disgusting, and about the most despicable thing a human being could ever do. To which, I totally agree, but doesn’t his argument get blurred in the process? How can he have it both ways?

Interestingly enough, since I am a man I will never have an abortion, and therefore I wonder if it even makes sense for me to comment on this. But I do know flawed logic when I see it. And maybe it’s time that we talk about these schizophrenic laws that don’t not make any sense, as they seem to cancel out one another when it comes to the definition of a person. Please consider it and think on it.