The Campaign For DA


Random Friday Morning Thoughts

A little fun fact that I had forgotten.

  • Let me explain why this is wrong. Stay with me here. 

    • Murder is an intentional act. Manslaughter is not. But let's first be very clear about the legal definition of Murder. It means you intended the "result" (a dead person). It's not that you intended your "conduct" (pulling the trigger.)  You have to focus on whether the defendant intended the result.   In law, that is why murder is considered a "result oriented" crime. I can't stress this enough.
    • There are situations where you could intend to pull the trigger of a gun (conduct) but not intend to kill anyone, yet someone dies (result).  That might be Manslaughter (more about that in a minute), but it's not murder. 
    • Take this situation. You wake up at night in your apartment and see an intruder. If you intend to kill the person, take your gun, and fire at him and kill him, you have committed the act of murder. Now there are a number of legal defenses available to you (self-defense, defense of property), but it starts out as technically murder.
    • But what if you didn't want to kill the intruder but just wanted to scare him? To do so, you fire your gun through the ceiling. Unfortunately, the bullet strikes and kills your upstairs neighbor. Did you legally murder the neighbor? No. Why? Because you didn't intend the result: your neighbor's death.
    • But have you committed Manslaughter? Maybe. Manslaughter is, by definition, an accidental homicide, committed with recklessness. If firing into the ceiling of an apartment complex is a reckless act, then it is Manslaughter if it results in death. 
    • Other manslaughter examples:  Drag racing though a school zone at 3:00 p.m.  but a child dies in a cross walk.  Forgetting your gun was still loaded and pointing it at a buddy and pulling the trigger during stupid horseplay. Screaming "boo" directly behind someone who is standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon. In all situations, you didn't intend the death of anyone but you may very well have committed Manslaughter.
    • Now let's go to Aaron Dean. 
    • He testified he saw Jefferson in the home with a gun, thought it was a burglar who was going to kill him, so he shot at that person with the intent to kill them. He intended the result: Her death. That's murder unless he had a defense. The prosecution's case was based 100% on the allegation that he shot at her with the intent to kill her. 
    • And no one -- not the State, not the defense, not the witnesses, not the experts --  disputed he shot at her with the intent to cause her death. 
    • The whole trial was exclusively over the issue of self-defense to the act of murder. It was hotly contested. That's why the prosecutor spent her time putting this slide up during closing argument: 

    • But was Aaron Dean guilty of Manslaughter? No way.  He intended to kill her.  He didn't accidentally kill her by doing something reckless.  Now if he had said, "I didn't intend for my gun to go off" or "I just wanted to fire into the floor to scare her", then it might be Manslaughter if his acts of handling and firing the gun were reckless. But those aren't the facts here. 
    • Neither the State's prosecutors or the defense lawyers even argued to the jury that they should could consider Manslaughter. 
    • People get understandably confused by all of this and say it's Manslaughter because he was "reckless" for assuming the person in the house was an intruder.   While he might have been reckless in his decision-making, it doesn't make it Manslaughter because he still intended the result of death. The fact that he was reckless about determining the identity of who he was shooting at goes instead to the issue of-self defense. See that screenshot above? That's exactly what the prosecutor was arguing: She said Dean did not "reasonably believe" force was necessary because he was unreasonable in assuming it was an intruder he was firing at.
    • So if you been following the Dean story and want to argue "he should have known better!", you aren't arguing that he should be guilty of Manslaughter. Your really saying that his claim of self-defense to murder wasn't justified because he acted unreasonably. A murder conviction would be your only option. 
    • I think there's a good chance the Manslaughter conviction could be reversed and rendered on appeal for insufficient evidence for the reasons explained above. If so, he can't be tried for that again (or Murder, for that matter, because the jury implicitly acquitted him of that.)  Nerdy stuff: I don't think it matters that the defense did not object to the Manslaughter option being submitted to the jury -- they can still raise an insufficient evidence claim on appeal.
    • Final Aaron Dean thought: The jury can give him probation today. They might very well do it. 
  • Whew. Moving on.   
  • The pleadings in the Wise County lawsuit brought by Jacob Stand against Fed Ex and others also has a local lawyer on the pleadings in addition to the New Mexico lawyer: Paul Belew. 
  • In what may be the most embarrassing moment ever from Trump, his "big announcement" yesterday was an NFT scam. For $99 bucks, you can buy one screenshot of the following bad photo-shops. They aren't even real cards. No one grifts more than him. No one insults his MAGA disciples more than him. Even Steve Bannon said he can't take it any more. 

  • Speaking of grift for dollars. I'm sure you've seen the crash of the Lockheed Martin F-35B plane. It ends with the very confusing act of the pilot ejecting after the plane is on the ground. Video.

  • I hope you weren't using 114 through Grapevine yesterday. It was shut down for hours due to a truck fire.

  • Elon Musk went (more) crazy yesterday and started blocking his critics.

    • Hey, it's a private company. He has every right to do this. Just don't lie so badly. Flashback: 

  • This didn't get enough news for all the nutcases out there with their conspiracy theories about the brutal assault of Nancy Pelosi's husband. The video of it was played in court two days ago.

  • The establishment named Roastaurant on the square in Decatur is closing
  • Time which has passed since the Wise County Sheriff's Office, despite having a full male DNA profile, has failed to solve the murder of Lauren Whitener in her home at Lake Bridgeport: 3 years, 164 days.
  • Messenger: Above the Fold