[StBernard] WIERD Murder Mystery

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Tue Oct 4 20:04:57 EDT 2011

Do you like to read a good murder mystery?
Not even Law and Order would attempt to capture this mess. This is an
unbelievable twist of fate!

At the 1994 annual awards dinner given for Forensic Science, AAFS President
Dr. Don Harper Mills astounded his audience with the legal complications of
a bizarre death. Here is the story:

On March 23, 1994, the medical examiner viewed the body of Ronald Opus, and
concluded that he died from a shotgun wound to the head. Mr. Opus had
jumped from the top of a ten-story building intending to commit suicide.
He left a note to the effect indicating his despondency. As he fell past
the ninth floor, his life was interrupted by a shotgun blast passing through
a window, which killed him instantly. Neither the shooter nor the deceased
was aware that a safety net had been installed just below the eighth floor
level to protect some building workers and that Ronald Opus would not have
been able to complete his suicide the way he had planned.
"Ordinarily, " Dr Mills continued, "Someone who sets out to commit suicide
and ultimately succeeds, even though the mechanism might not be what he
intended, is still defined as committing suicide." That Mr. Opus was
shot on the way to certain death, but probably would not have been
successful because of the safety net, caused the medical examiner to feel
that he had a homicide on his hands.
An elderly man and his wife occupied the room on the ninth floor, where the
shotgun blast emanated. They were arguing vigorously, and he was
threatening her with a shotgun! The man was so upset that when he pulled
the trigger, he completely missed his wife, and the pellets went through the
window, striking Mr. 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 the murder charge, the old man and his wife were both
adamant, and both said that they thought the shotgun was not loaded. The
old man said it was a long-standing habit to threaten his wife with the
unloaded shotgun. He had no intention to murder her. Therefore the killing
of Mr. Opus appeared to be an accident; that is, assuming the gun had been
accidentally loaded.
The continuing investigation turned up a witness who saw the old couple's
son loading the shotgun about six weeks prior to the fatal accident.
It transpired that the old lady had cut off her son's financial support and
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.
Since the loader of the gun was aware of this, he was guilty of the murder
even though he didn't actually pull the trigger. The case now becomes one
of murder on the part of the son for the death of Ronald Opus.
Now comes the exquisite twist... Further investigation revealed that the son
was, in fact, Ronald Opus. He 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 23rd, only to be killed by a
shotgun blast passing through the ninth story window.
The son, Ronald Opus, had actually murdered himself. So the medical
examiner closed the case as a suicide.

A true story from Associated Press, (Reported by Kurt Westerville)

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